California Quail (Callipepla californica)

California Quail

[order] GALLIFORMES | [family] Odontophoridae | [latin] Callipepla californica | [UK] California Quail | [FR] Colin de Californie | [DE] Schopfwachtel | [ES] Codorniz de California | [NL] Californische Kuifkwartel


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Callipepla californica NA, MA sw Canada to Baja California
Callipepla californica achrustera s Baja California (nw Mexico)
Callipepla californica brunnescens sw Oregon to c California (wc USA)
Callipepla californica californica e Oregon (USA) to nw Mexico
Callipepla californica canfieldae ec California (wc USA)
Callipepla californica catalinensis Santa Catalina I. (USA)

Physical charateristics

A small, plump, grayish, chickenlike bird, with a short black plume curving forward from the crown. Males have a black and white face and throat pattern. Females are duller.

Listen to the sound of California Quail

[audio: Quail.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 32 cm wingspan max.: 37 cm
size min.: 24 cm size max.: 27 cm
incubation min.: 22 days incubation max.: 23 days
fledging min.: 1 days fledging max.: 2 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 12  
      eggs max.: 16  


North America, Middle America : Southwest Canada to Baja California


Broken chaparral, woodland edges, coastal scrub, parks, farms.
Found in a wide variety of habitats. May be most common in open oak woodland and in streamside growth bordered by chaparral, but also found in suburbs, semi-desert situations, pinyon-juniper woods, grassland, coastal sage scrub. Where introduced farther
inland, may be in other brushy habitats. Avoids mountains.


During breeding season, males call loudly to advertise territory. In courtship, male postures with wings drooped, tail spread; bobs head, may rush at female.
Nest: Site is usually on ground, under shrub or other cover. Sometimes nests above ground, on broken-off branch or in old nest of another bird. Typical nest on ground is a shallow depression, lined with grass and leaves.
Eggs: 10-16, usually 13-14. Dull white to pale buff, marked with brown. Two females sometimes lay eggs in same nest. Incubation is by female only, about 18-23 days.
Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Both parents tend young, with male often perching high and acting as sentinel; young feed themselves. Young can fly short distances at age of 10 days, but not full grown until later. 1 brood per year, 2 in year
s with good food supply.

Feeding habits

Mostly seeds and leaves. Feeds on a wide variety of plants, but especially annual weeds, eating the seeds, leaves, and fresh shoots. Also eats acorns, berries, flowers, bulbs, insects.
Forages mostly by picking up items from ground, often scratching on ground, and picking leaves from plants. Along roads, may feed on acorns that have been cracked open by passing cars. In neighborhoods with good plant cover, comes into yards to eat grain
or bird seed.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
California Quail status Least Concern


Resident, British Columbia to Baja California. On western edge of Mojave and Colorado deserts where ranges of California and Gambel’s quail overlap, hybrids occur. Migration: Permanent resident throughout its range.

Distribution map

California Quail distribution range map

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