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California Quail

This handsome roundish grayish brown bird with a beautifully scaled under part is considered California’s state bird since the 1930s. It is a ground dweller, and therefore has short strong legs, although it can fly fast, over short distances.

Very much like a hen, this bird is scared easily. When startled it prefers to run; only choosing to fly if all else fails.

Their main diet is vegetation, consisting of seeds, legumes, acorns, fruits, berries and insects. Their intestines have a special protozoan that they get when they are chicks, by pecking on the feces of the adult birds.

Because of the dry weather, conditions they live in, these birds’ bodies can survive for long periods without water. They preserve the water content through the juicy insects and vegetation they eat.

California quail are social birds and hang out in groups called “conveys”. These conveys consist of about 50 to 75 birds, and can especially be seen during winter. They crowd behavior is organized and they often support each other, be it sharing food, or protective each other from danger.

They have 14 different calls that they use to indicate feeding, regrouping, courtship and warning calls during danger.

During early spring, these convey break up, and the bird couples (often sticking with one mate an entire season) plan nesting areas to bring up the chicks. As summer draws to a close these new families regroup (heralded by one of the 14 calls) into the convey and survive like that until the next season.

The male bird assumes the role of family protector during the nesting season, watching over the chicks while they forage. This leads to him losing weight as he has less time to eat.

California Quail have a short life span. Because of this, their species has adapted by having high reproductive rates. The female often lays 2 separate batches of 12 to 16 eggs at each occasion.