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Quail Identification

The U.S. also plays host to several varieties of Quails, including the California Quail, Mountain Quail, Gambel's Quail, Scaled Quail, and the colorful and unusual Montezuma Quail.

At American Bird Guide, we are inordinately proud of our state bird - the California Quail. The Quail's sociable and complex family system makes an unsurpassable bird watching subject. In our rural location, we are fortunate enough to have numerous large coveys of Quails to observe and have become very familar with their habits. They are, however, very shy, and the experienced birder watches from a safe distance. Bird watching binoculars can be helpful.


The California Quail is a highly sociable bird 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" in diameter.

One of the male Quails is designated as the family guard. He perches atop a fence post, tree branch, or even a telephone pole to keep a close watch on his clan, emitting a variety of calls to inform them of approaching dangers, or to keep in verbal contact with other Quails. Quails are members of the pheasant family.

We have noted that male quails are also often designated baby sitters, and several 'uncles' may be seen guarding baby quails on their walks. Baby Quails are able to fly just a few days after hatching, and this is vital. Because the California Quail is not the best flier - but rather spends much of its time on the ground, it is essential that it be able to fly up quickly away from danger.

These clever, sensitive and beautiful birds are excellent spouses and parents. We would like to add that we at American Bird Guide deplore the practice of viewing Quails as a food source. They belong in the wild, living in their productive family groups. Quail ornaments, quail flags, quail stamps, plush quails, and quail gifts all celebrate the special charm of this beloved bird. Your local wild bird supply store should be able to offer you quail seed, as well.

For more information and a photo of the California Quail, please visit the following link:

Get to Know Your Quail

California Quail California Quail | Lophortyx californicus | 9" - 11"
Every day, the Quail family comes out of its home in the branches of a low tree or shubbery and promenades in open spaces such as lawns, country roads or meadows.

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