California Quail Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The California quail (Callipepla californica) belongs to the New World quail family and it had originally lived in the southwestern United States. The quail is also known as California valley quail. It is a ground-dwelling species and males are particularly bulky from the middle giving it a look of a soccer ball.

California Quail Facts


  • Adults average 9.4–10.6 in (24 – 27 cm) in body length. The mean weight of California quails is about 4.9–8.1 oz (140–230 g).
  • The wingspan measures around 12.6–14.6 in (32 – 37 cm). The quail is nearly the size of Northern Bobwhite.
  • The California quail is a state bird of California.
  • Males are typically recognized by their black crest while females have brown crest.
  • Unlike adults young birds usually show light-colored belly.
  • There are creamy white chestnut scales on the belly of both male and female.
california quail facts
California Quail

Range & Habitat

  • California quails are likely to make homes in a wide variety of habitats such as foothills, high deserts, coastal sagebrush, and chaparral of the northwestern United States.
  • California quail’s range includes many countries where they are later introduced such as British, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Brazil, Australia (King Island, Norfolk Island), New Zealand, Uruguay, Hawaii, and Peru.
  • They are pretty familiar to the backyards because here they could easily find birdseeds.


  • California quails are busy on the ground. They scratch, they walk, they run and they search seeds under the leaf litter.
  • Quails are rarely seen foraging in trees.
  • They are capable to achieve great speeds while running.
  • When the predator approaches, the California quails may beat their wings to fly.
  • The quail forages in large groups containing 75 individuals each.
  • It is thought to feed at morning and evening. Quails will avoid the hottest hours of the day by going into the shades.
  • A group of quails is called ‘coveys’.
  • They are not migratory birds.
  • Quails are likely to produce calls like Chicago or They have a typical call of tutu which they utter when they are starving.

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • California quails typically feed on grains, poison oak berries, seeds, flowers, manzanita, catkins, leaves, and acorns.
  • They will supplement their diet with small invertebrates including beetles, snails, caterpillars, millipedes, and mites.
  • About 70% of the quail’s diet consists of green vegetation which makes it a vegetarian bird.
california quail facts
A covey of California Quails running

Reproductive Biology

  • The female deposits 12 – 16 creamy white eggs in a nest which is made of grasses and stems. Quail makes nest in a shallow depression and covers the eggs with dry vegetation or rocks.
  • Quail’s eggs are 1.3 in (3.2 cm) long and averaging 1 in (2.5 cm) in width. There are few brown markings on the eggs.
  • The incubation period lasts 22 – 23 days.
  • The nest measures 5 – 7 inches across with the depth reaching 1 – 2 inches.
  • California quails raise 1 – 2 broods each season.
  • Sometimes quails place nest 10 meters above the ground.
  • The maximum lifespan of California quail is about 6 years.

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Waleed Khalid

A professional writer and a passionate wildlife enthusiast, who is mostly found hooked to his laptop or in libraries researching about the wildlife.

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