|Conservation status||Local populations rise and fall, apparently reproducing poorly in very dry years. Overall population seems stable.|
|Family||New World Quail|
|Habitat||Brushy desert, canyons. May be in very dry country, but concentrates near sources of water. Favors typical Sonoran desert, with open ground and wide variety of shrubs, low trees, and cactus; often around mesquite thickets. Avoids unbroken grassland with no shrubs. May be common in open suburbs where some land is left undeveloped.|
Forages in flocks from late summer to early spring. Does most feeding on ground, but readily goes up into shrubs and low trees for berries, leaves, buds.
10-12, sometimes more. Dull white to pale buff, rather heavily marked with brown. Two females sometimes lay eggs in one nest. Incubation is by female only, 21-24 days. Young: Downy young leave nest within a day after hatching, and follow parents. Both parents tend young and lead them to food sources, but young feed themselves. Young can fly short distances at age of 10 days but are not full grown until later. One brood per year, two in years with good food supply.
Downy young leave nest within a day after hatching, and follow parents. Both parents tend young and lead them to food sources, but young feed themselves. Young can fly short distances at age of 10 days but are not full grown until later. One brood per year, two in years with good food supply.
Mostly seeds, leaves, berries. Adults apparently are mostly vegetarians at most seasons. They eat many fresh plant shoots, leaves, and buds, especially during spring. Cactus fruits and the berries of mistletoe, hackberry, and other plants are eaten when available. Seeds are important in the diet at all times. Usually few insects are eaten, although young birds may eat more.
In breeding season, male gives clear descending note from high perch. Mated pairs spend much time exploring territory, apparently prospecting for good nest sites. Nest site is usually on ground, in shade of shrub or grass clump; sometimes above ground on stump or on old nest of thrasher or roadrunner. Typical ground nest (probably built by female) is shallow depression lined with grass, leaves, twigs.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Permanent resident throughout its range.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
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Songs and CallsA ringing puk-kwaw-cah, with second syllable highest in pitch.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Gambel's Quail
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Climate threats facing the Gambel's Quail
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