As the name suggests, these are almost completely covered with black tipped feathers that look like scales. They also have a small, pointed, cream-colored crest atop their heads, can grow to a foot in length and weigh 7 or 8 oz.
Found in the southwestern US and most of Mexico, these birds prefer a drier climate, which is why they can be found in the deserts of the Southwest and Mexico. Due to their choice of terrain, water often isn’t very accessible, so these birds frequently fly close to a mile to get some.
They like to live in the grassy portions of the desert since it provides them with cover and food. (They eat the grass along with seeds, wheat and corn.) Scalies form moderate-sized coveys of 30 or 40 birds, but these numbers can easily double come wintertime.
Like its relatives, the California and mountain quail, these birds like to run rather than flush and they’re well known for their evasive maneuvers. They tend employ the method of running and scattering, then holding tight and waiting for predators to pass them by.
Since the coveys will run and splinter, it’s easy to get on the trail of one or two of the birds and get a good shot. As with the California quail, it’s suggested you use field loads with size 7 ½ or 8 shot and a 12 to 20-guage shotgun, along with a close working dog, to help pin down the straggling scalies.