Scaled Quail

Callipepla squamata




New World Quail (Odontophoridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White with light brown spots

Number of Eggs:

9 - 16

Incubation Days:

21 - 23

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

Nest on ground, under cover.

Nest Material:

Grass, leaves.





Scaled Quail: Large quail known as the "cottontop," due to its white-tipped gray crest; nape, neck and underparts have dark-edged gray and buff feathers creating a distinctly scaled look. Upperparts are plain gray with a white stripe at base of wings; sides are gray with short white stripes. Female is similar but has a buff-tipped gray crest that is smaller, and is browner overall. Juvenile is more mottled above, and has less scaling.

Range and Habitat

Scaled Quail: Found primarily in New Mexico, western Texas, and portions of western Oklahoma, southwest Kansas, southeast Colorado, southeast Utah, and eastern Arizona. Inhabits open landscapes, desert grassland, thorn-scrub and savanna. Populations have declined since the 1940's, perhaps due to habitat loss.

Breeding and Nesting

Scaled Quail: Monogamous. Nest is a depression lined with grass and leaves where female lays nine to sixteen white eggs with light brown spots. Female incubates for 21 to 23 days, male incubates rarely. Precocial young leave nest soon after hatching, stay with adults until the following spring. Often will not breed in dry years, or away from open water sources.

Foraging and Feeding

Scaled Quail: Consumes a variety of seeds. Takes more insects than other quail, usually on a seasonal basis. Readily takes food from backyard feeding stations where it prefers millet, cracked corn, and safflower.

Readily Eats

Cracked Corn, Safflower, Millet


Scaled Quail: Song a loud, high pitched "QWEUR" or "QUEESH" heard in the spring. Call is a softer clucking "chur-chur", or "chuch'er" heard year round.

Similar Species

Scaled Quail: Both sexes of Gambel's Quail have deep chestnut flanks and long crown plumes (male's is black, female's is gray).


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Tufts of feathers on the head of the bird.
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X