California Quail Female with Chicks



I took a trip into town a few days ago, mostly for garden supplies. On the way home with the car loaded with all kinds of stuff, I realized that I had forgotten to stop at the local feed store.

I was only about a mile past the store so I turned around in the next rural driveway I came to and guess what I saw walking up this guy’s driveway?

A pair of California Quail (Callipepla californica) with about a dozen chicks! (Click on photos for full sized images).

Female California Quail (Callipepla californica)

Female California Quail (Callipepla californica)

Ok, where in the heck is my camera? It’s usually sitting on the front seat which is now covered with various items, the floorboard is packed full of food and so is the back seat. I look up the driveway again and the quail family is still slowly making their way up the steep slope, the tiny chicks all huddled around the female as the male took the vanguard position.

Female California Quail (Callipepla californica)

A typical clutch for California Quail is 12 to 14 eggs but they can have more than 20 in a clutch. The female usually does all of the incubating which begins after the entire clutch is laid, producing a synchronous hatch.

California Quail Female With Chicks

The synchronous hatch of the California Quail is accomplished by vocalizations and continuous clicking sounds. Then, just before hatching, the young give a hatching call and the entire clutch is usually hatched within four hours1. You can hear some of the California Quail calls here.

California Quail Female With Chicks

The chicks are born precocial meaning they have their eyes open, they are covered with down and they are ready to go!

California Quail Female With Chicks

They immediately follow the parents, pecking at the ground. Their yolk sacs will be absorbed in two weeks when they have developed foraging skills.

California Quail Female With Chicks

These chicks probably hatched this morning and the parents were taking them out on their first excursion. The male had gone ahead and was standing sentinel on top of the rocks above but the female was keeping her chicks well hidden underneath.

California Quail Female With Chicks

This straggler finally joined its siblings giving mom some relief I’m sure.

California Quail Female With Chicks

Now that they were all together under mom’s watchful eye, they could relax in their camouflage down coats.

California Quail Female With Chicks

For more more up to the minute news on bird conservation issues, check my “Birds in the News” page, brought to you by the American Bird Conservancy. You will also find posts on local birds and birding in California on my blog The Birder’s Report.

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Larry Jordan

Larry Jordan is an avid birder and amateur photographer living on the Pacific Flyway near the Central Valley of Northern California. He is a board member of his local Audubon Society and is a bird and wildlife conservationist. Larry contributes to several wildlife conservation organizations and is a BirdLife International "Species Champion." He is also Habitat Manager for the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, an organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Western Burrowing Owl population in the United States. Larry has been blogging about birds since September of 2007 at TheBirdersReport.com

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Larry Jordan

Larry Jordan is an avid birder and amateur photographer living on the Pacific Flyway near the Central Valley of Northern California. He is a board member of his local Audubon Society and is a bird and wildlife conservationist. Larry contributes to several wildlife conservation organizations and is a BirdLife International "Species Champion." He is also Habitat Manager for the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, an organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Western Burrowing Owl population in the United States. Larry has been blogging about birds since September of 2007 at TheBirdersReport.com

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Terri McCoy

I found a baby, domesticated bird on my friend's lawn. I tried to take it to animal control and they said it looks like a quail. They would not take it and I don't know what to do with it. Any suggestions? I live near a preserve that has wild quail and I was thinking of releasing it there.