Gambel's quail (Callipepla gambelii)

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(Fig. 01)
Picture Notes: I have observed the Gambel’s quail on many of my hikes in a wide range of habitats, from low desert Baja's to the upper mountain ranges. The two is (Fig. 01) were spotted at the Walking Box Ranch in the vast desert, Piute Valley east of Searchlight, Nevada. The triptych below (Fig. 02), was taken near the base of the Ireteba Peaks inside the Ireteba Wilderness Area, northeast of Searchlight, Nevada. When we first spotted the male and female, we didn’t even notice the baby chicks. These two adults tried to steer us in the opposite direction, away from the babies. It was amazing how fast the little chicks scattered in every direction, seeking for cover. Once the hen noticed that we were approaching the chicks, she returned to protect them. We counted at least 12 chicks, which I later learned is a average size litter. The final grouping of quails in the collage in (Fig. 03) were captured behind the visitor center at the Valley of Fire State Park.
(Fig. 02)
Quail Collage
(Fig. 03)
Description: The Gambel's quail (Callipepla gambelii) are generally short, rounded wings, –short necks and short tails. Gambel's quail have gray plumage on much of their bodies, and males have copper feathers on the top of their heads, black faces, and white stripes above their eyes. The bird's average length is 11 inches with a wingspan of 14–16 inches. Their featherless legs are short and powerful, although they are capable of short bursts of strong flight, quails prefer to walk, and will run from danger (or hide), taking off explosively only as a last resort. The bills are short, slightly curved and serrated. Plumage varies from dull to spectacular, and many species have ornamental crests or plumes on the head, with males having brighter plumage. Gambel's quail can be commonly confused with California quail due to similar plumage. They can usually be distinguished by range, but when this does not suffice, California quail have a more scaly appearance and the black patch on the lower breast of the male Gambel's quail is absent in the California quail.

Gambel's quail primarily move about by walking and can move surprisingly fast through brush and undergrowth. Quail eat mainly seeds and berries but also take leaves, roots, and some insects. They are a non-migratory species and are rarely seen in flight. Any flight is usually short and explosive, with many rapid wingbeats, followed by a slow glide to the ground. In the late summer, fall, and winter, the adults and immature young congregate into coveys of many birds. In the spring, Gambel's quail pair off for mating and become very aggressive toward other pairs. The chicks are decidedly more insectivorous than adults, gradually consuming more plant matter as they mature. Gambel's quail are monogamous and rarely breed in colonies. In spring the hen (female) typically lays 10–12 eggs in a simple scrape concealed in vegetation, often at the base of a rock or tree.Incubation lasts from 21–23 days, usually performed by the female and rarely by the male. The chicks are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching, leaving the nest with their parents within hours of hatching.
They are commonly inhabit the desert regions of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah,Texas, and Sonora; also New Mexico-border Chihuahua and the Colorado River region of Baja California. The Gambel's quail is named in honor of William Gambel, a 19th-century naturalist and explorer of the Southwestern United States.