California Quail

Callipepla californica




New World Quail (Odontophoridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Buff to yellow with large blotches of brown gray.

Number of Eggs:

12 - 16

Incubation Days:

18 - 23

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground, occasionally in low tree.

Nest Material:

Lined with grasses or leaves.





California Quail: Medium-sized quail with distinctive, curled black head plume and white-bordered black throat. Breast is gray and belly is sharply scaled. Flanks are brown with white streaks; back is olive-brown; black bill, gray legs. Female is browner and lacks a dark central patch on the belly; head and throat gray with dark streaks. Some females get partial male plumage. Juveniles are smaller, with brown plume, without black throat; lacks a bold flank pattern, has buff-tipped greater primary coverts.

Range and Habitat

California Quail: Originally, this species was a resident from southern Oregon south to Baja California, but it has been introduced to the Pacific northwest, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. Its preferred habitats include brushy chaparral foothills, live oak canyons, and adjacent deserts and suburbs.

Breeding and Nesting

California Quail: Males often compete for a mate. They will mate with only one female. Twelve to sixteen buff to yellow eggs with large blotches of brown gray are laid in a shallow ground depression lined with grass. Incubation ranges from 18 to 23 days and is carried out by the female. Both parents will care for the chicks.

Foraging and Feeding

California Quail: These quail eat seeds from broad-leafed plants such as Lupinus, Lotus, Erodium, Trifolium, Medicago, and Amsinckia. They feed on fruits, berries, leaves, and flowers from grasses, shrubs and trees, and forage on the ground. They also consume waste grain, catkins, plant galls and insects. Drinking water is necessary during periods of sustained heat and drought.

Readily Eats

Cracked Corn, Millet, Sunflower


California Quail: Makes a loud distinctive "ka-kah-ko" or "chi-ca-go", with second note being highest.

Similar Species

California Quail: Gambel's Quail lacks scaled underparts, brown sides, and brown crown. Mountain Quail has gray-brown upperparts and two long, thin straight head plumes that appear as a single plume.

The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
The lateral area posterior to the side of the bird’s body that extends back to the base of the tail.
Primary covertsX
The primary coverts are shorter feathers that cover and protect the primary flight feathers.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X