Gambel's Quail

Callipepla gambelii




New World Quail (Odontophoridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Buff with brown spots.

Number of Eggs:

9 - 14

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with grasses, sticks, and feathers.





Gambel's Quail: Medium-sized quail with gray upperparts and breast, scaled gray nape, black patch on center of abdomen, black head plume shaped like a teardrop, white bordered black face, cinnamon-brown crown, and buff underparts with flanks streaked with dark chestnut-brown and white. Female lacks black on head, face and breast; head and throat are gray with dark streaks; has smaller plume and shows a weakly scaled pattern on nape. Juvenile is smaller with tan and gray mottling and streaking.

Range and Habitat

Gambel's Quail: Resident in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Mexico, extending into southern New Mexico, up and down the Rio Grande, up the Colorado River drainage into Utah’s canyon country, and west to California and southern Nevada. Preferred habitats include brushy and thorny vegetation of southwestern deserts.

Breeding and Nesting

Gambel's Quail: Breeding season ranges from April to July. Nine to fourteen brown spotted buff eggs are laid in a nest site on the ground selected by the female. Preferably the nest is hidden under a shrub, rock, or protected site. Small twigs, grass stems, leaves and feathers line the nest. Incubation ranges from 21 to 24 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Gambel's Quail: Their diet includes seeds of forbs, grasses, shrubs, trees, and cacti, herbaceous material composed of grass blades, and leaves of forbs. They also eat insects, spiders and small reptiles. They generally forage on the ground in any brushy or semi-brushy locale that provides food and nearby cover. Most feeding occurs twice a day, at dawn and in the late afternoon until sunset.


Gambel's Quail: Makes low grunting sounds similar to a piglet. Also a melancholy "quoit" or "oit" and loud, grating four-note "chi-CA-go-go."

Similar Species

Gambel's Quail: California Quail lacks black patch on abdomen, has dark brown crown black, prominently speckled white nape and sides of neck, and dull brown flanks.


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

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The upper front part of a bird.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
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