Bird Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Lophortyx californicus
California Quail

There are 130 species of quails worldwide. They are small, short-tailed game birds of the family Phasianidae (order Galliformes), resembling partridges but generally smaller and less robust. The 36 species of New World quail more nearly resemble Old World partridges.

Quail prefer open country and brushy borders. In spring the hen lays about 12 roundish eggs, which the male may help incubate. The young remain with their parents the first summer. Quail eat mainly seeds and berries but also take leaves, roots, and some insects. Their flesh is considered a delicacy, as are their eggs.

California Quail New World quail have stronger bills than do the Old World forms, and none has leg spurs. The Bobwhite Colinus virginianus of North America exists in about 20 races from southern Canada to Guatemala. Its name is suggestive of its call. Other than the bobwhite, North American quail include two important game birds introduced widely elsewhere: the California Quail, Callipepla californica (pictured here) and the Desert Quail, Lophortyx gambelii. Both species have a head plume, which is larger in males, curling forward.

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