These birds have a curving crest or plume, made of six feathers, that droops forward: black in males and brown for females; the flanks are brown with white streaks. Males have a dark brown cap and a black face with a brown back, a grey-blue chest and a light brown belly. Females and immature birds are mainly grey-brown with a light-colored belly. Their closest relative is Gambel's Quail which has a more southerly distribution and, a longer crest (2.5 inches), a brighter head and a scalier appearance.
Habitat and Distribution
They were originally mainly found in the southern United States , but have also been introduced in British Columbia, Hawaii, Chile, New Zealand, and to Norfolk Island and King Island in Australia. The California Quail is a highly sociable bird that often gathers in small flocks. They like to do a dust bath activity preferably in sunny areas.
Their diet consists of mainly seeds and insects and also berries and insects. They forage on the ground often scratching the soil.
The nest is a shallow scrape lined with vegetation on the ground beneath a shrub. The female usually lays about twelve eggs.
Calls and Songs
Their calls often include the social chicago call, contact pips and warning pips. During the breeding season, males utter an agonistic squill.