Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Gambel's Quail

Every morning we're awakened by the raucous cry of several families of Gambel's Quail (Callipepla bambelii) foraging in our patio. Each family has a dominant male who guards the rest.He flies up on the wall and checks out the area. Then he gives the all-clear, and the rest of the family either fly up over the wall or come under the gate. When they're ready to go, he repeats the process. Note the wonderful black plume ("topknot"), black face outlined in white, and red cap of the male. The female is less colourful and its plume is less prominent.The two quail on the left are females (not a very flattering photo, I'm afraid, but I find them difficult to photograph - they scoot whenever I show up).

Gambel's Quail are seed eaters. They also like herbaceous material, fruits and berries. They are ground feeders. We see them early in the morning in the patio. At sundown, they make a foray through our back yard.
Gambel's quail inhabit brushy and thorny vegetation of southwestern deserts. They range up to a mile, often along river valleys and drainages. They roost at night time in shrubs and trees, usually just a few inches to a few feet off the ground. They appear commonly in suburbs.

These gregarious birds often join together in groups known as coveys, which may total 20 or more individuals in fall and winter. [This is the behaviour we're seeing now. In spring and summer, we see individual family groups.] They produce a l0cation or assembly call, "ka-KAA-ka-ka," to locate a mate or other covey members. They emit a distinct "chip-chip-chip" when alarmed. [Desert USA]

7 comments:

Endment said...

How beautiful!!!
You have captured their wonderful coloring ...
I miss having quail in our yard

Sonia said...

Pam, these "Gambel's Quail" are just beautiful! Thanks for the link, too!

robin andrea said...

We have California Quail here in the pacific northwest. Their behavior is like your Gambel's Quail behavior. The male is often on the lookout, and the female and young forage about for food. The male is also quite striking. Lovely photos of them, Pam.

Duncan said...

What an exotic looking bird Pam, must be great to have them around.

Trevor said...

You are very fortunate to have such beautiful birds in your garden. Love that crest on the male.

Pam in Tucson said...

endment - I love the colouring of the males, too.

sonia - you're very welcome. Glad you enjoyed them.

ra - They are my husband's favourite patio visitor - they are always so comical as they run about the garden. And we so appreciate how protective the males are of their families.

duncan - They really are a delight. I wish I could get stills of the females and their young, but i find them very difficult to capture - they move so quickly. When the little ones first hatch, they're so tiny that they look like little insects running behind their parents.

trevor - Isn't he a handsome one? I really do love them, despite their raucous cries which wake me whenever I try to sleep in.

Anonymous said...

Nice, very nice, I love to watch the young ones grow. amn