Quail, Callipepla californica, also known
the California Valley Quail or Valley Quail, is a small ground-dwelling
bird in the New World quail
family. It is the state bird of California
These birds have a curving crest or "plume" that droops forward - black
in males and brown for females; the flanks are brown with white
streaks. Males have a dark brown cap and a black face with a brown
back, a grey-blue chest and a light brown belly. Females and immature
birds are mainly grey-brown with a light-colored belly. Their closest
relative is Gambel's
Quail which has a more southerly distribution and a scalier
appearance. The two species separated about 1-2 myr
the Late Pliocene
or Early Pleistocene(Zink
& Blackwell, 1998).
California Quail is a highly sociable bird that often gathers in
small flocks known as "coveys", and one of the daily communal
activities is the taking of dust baths. A family of quail will select
an area where the ground has been newly turned or is soft, and using
their underbellies, will burrow downward into the soil some 1-2 inches.
They then wriggle about in the indentations they have created, flapping
their wings and ruffling their feathers, causing dust to rise in the
air. They seem to prefer sunny places in which to create these dust
baths, and an ornithologist is able to detect the presence of quail in
an area by spotting the circular indentations left behind in the soft
dirt, some 3-6" (7-15 cm) in diameter.
They are all-year residents. Although this bird coexists well at the
edges of urban areas, it is declining in some areas as human
populations increase. They were originally found mainly in the
States but they have been introduced into other areas
Columbia, Hawaii, Chile, New Zealand,
Island in Australia
These birds forage on the ground, often scratching at the soil. They
can sometimes be seen feeding at the sides of roads. Their diet
consists mainly of seeds and leaves, but they also eat some berries and
insects. If startled, these birds explode into short fast flight. Given
a choice, they will normally make their escape on foot.
Their breeding habitat is shrubby areas and open woodlands in western North
The nest is a shallow scrape lined with vegetation located on the
ground under a shrub or other cover. The female usually lays around 12
eggs. Once they are hatched, both parents look after the young.
My Thoughts on Raising California
Quail do better
on the ground than on wire, due to their nervous nature. The ground
however should be dry so a drier climate would work best. There are a
lot of breeders that do raise these quail on wire, with success. I
would recommend giving them a little more room than you would a Bob
White or Coturnix. It is also a good idea, when raising these quail to
start them off
by adding an antibiotic to their water. Due to their nervous nature the
valley quail can become stressed rather easily. When they even after
they reach maturity and you notice they seem stressed, it is a good
idea to add some antibiotic to their water. This actually holds true
when raising any type of quail.
breed in captivity, their natural laying
season is May through June. Also remember to follow the general rule
when raising quail, to not add new quail to the an existing flock
during breeding season. The new quail would be killed quickly. Only add
new quail to an existing flock in winter or colder months of the year.
Incubation time 22 to 23 days using the
same settings as for the Bob White Quail. Find all incubation
temperature and humidity settings in the beginners guide.