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California Quail Callipepla californica


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California Quails, female (left) and male (right)
credit: Sid Mosdell/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Odontophoridae, New World Quail view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has mainly gray-brown upperparts, the nape finely marked with black and white, and a dull brown crown. Black on face and throat is defined by white and separated from crown by white line above the eye. Breast is lilac-gray, belly appears scaled due to dark feather margins, and flanks are brown with pale streaks. ADULT FEMALE Similar to male, but duller overall and lacks striking head markings. JUVENILE Similar to adult female, but duller still, and more mottled.

Dimensions Length: 9-11" (23-28 cm)

Habitat Locally common in open woodland and scrub (including urban fringes), usually in vicinity of water.

Observation Tips Easiest to find in winter, early in the morning.

Range Rocky Mountains, Northwest, Southwest, Alaska, California

Voice Male utters an insistent whe-kee-go call.

Discussion Well-marked quail, similar to Gambel's, but separable with care: California male has mainly scaly belly and pale brown (not black) forehead. Note the distinctive curved head plume shared by both sexes of both species. Highly gregarious outside the breeding season. Feeds on seeds, shoots, and invertebrates. Sexes are dissimilar.