California Quail

1/100s at f5.6, ISO:400, Canon Mark III 1Ds w/800mm


The California Quail is a highly sociable bird that often gathers in small flocks known as "coveys". They are year-round residents. Although this bird coexists well at the edges of urban areas, it is declining in some areas as human populations increase. These birds forage on the ground, often scratching at the soil. They can sometimes be seen feeding at the sides of roads. Their diet consists mainly of seeds and leaves, but they also eat some berries and insects; for example, Toyon berries (Christmas berry and California holly) are a common food source. If startled, these birds explode into short rapid flight, called "flushing". Given a choice, they will normally make their escape on foot. Their breeding habitat is shrubby areas and open woodlands in western North America. The nest is a shallow scrape lined with vegetation located on the ground under a shrub or other cover. The female usually lays approximately twelve eggs. Once they are hatched, the young associate with both adults. Often, families group together, into multifamily "communal broods" which include at least two females, multiple males and many offspring. Males associated with families are not always the genetic fathers. In good years, females will lay more than one clutch, leaving the hatched young with the associated male and laying a new clutch, often with a different associated male.
Pt. Reyes, CA
 
12/23/2009