California Quail Female and Male all photos by Mark Schmitt
These beautiful game birds are now in the process of forming coveys. Coveys are large groups of birds made up of several families, consisting of parents and their offspring. These coveys can number up to 200 birds. If you have ever come across a covey of Quail you may have been startled as they take off from their hide with a thunderous sound like a helicopter taking off!
Male Guiding His Youngins Across An Open Space
California Quail roost in dense evergreen shrubs or trees, usually close to water. As they awaken from their roost between first light and sunrise you can usually hear a call from one of the males that sounds like he’s from Chi-Ca-Go [audio:https://thebirdersreport.com/audio/CalQuail.mp3]
Always Vigilant – The Male Is Usually the Vanguard Bird
The males make this call in the morning to “call in” any birds that may have gotten separated from the covey when they went to roost or during the night. The males will also stand guard while the females and young are feeding. These birds are very wary of any unfamiliar sound or movement. Always vigilant while on the move searching for food.
I always love watching them scurry across my yard in the spring and summer seasons. The male jumping up on rocks and logs to get the best view of any danger that lurks as the wary female goes about searching for food. Then come the chicks following in the fall as they begin to form their coveys.
Beautiful Male California Quail
California Quail will nest on the ground in a shallow scrape lined with vegetation, under a shrub or dense bush. Once they hatch, families often group together in communal broods with at least two females, several males and many young. In a good year the females may raise a second brood.
Unfortunately many of the covey won’t live through the first winter. This beautiful bird has a right to be sciddish, they are hunted, not only by hawks, foxes, coyotes, bobcats and other four legged animals, they are also hunted by the two legged mammals as well. Good luck out there little ones. Stay wary.