California Quail


caliquail.jpgClosely related to the Gambel’s, mountain and scaled quail, these birds have a tear-shaped plume sprouting from their head like the Gambel’s. They also have scale-like feathers on chest and can grow to a foot in length, but weigh only 7 or 8 oz. when full-grown.

Found in the western US they form large coveys that number up to 50 during hunting season and as many as 500 during winter. They live in open grasslands that house some trees or valleys and an ample supply of water.

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California quail eat seeds, leaves, wheat and other small grains and like to run rather than flush, especially in open spaces, when they sense danger. They almost always run uphill, but a sizeable number of them hold tight, not doing anything at all. (If and when they do flush, though, they fly very low to the ground, almost skimming the top of the cover.)

Close working dogs, especially pointers like the Brittany or English setters/pointers, are the best to hunt with because of the bird’s tendency to remain still – these dogs will find them and freeze them. The weapon of choice for many hunters is a 20-gauge shotgun with size 7 ½ or 8 shot.


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