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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

California Quail -- Callipepla californica

RANGE: Resident from southern British Columbia, Washington, and western Idaho south through most of Oregon, California, and Utah to Baja California. Most populations north of southern Oregon and east of California apparently the result of introductions.

STATUS: Common over most of its range.

HABITAT: Tolerates a relatively broad variety of climates, from cool, wet coastal areas to arid desert. Lives in foothills and valleys where low trees or shrubs have openings of weeds and grass near water; also in coastal scrub, broken chaparral, edges of woodlands, riparian woodland, and on farms, ranches, and parks. Roosts from 15 to 25 feet up in dense growth of trees or shrubs at night; uses brushy thickets during the day for roosting and escape cover.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Brushy cover within 50 feet of feeding areas, and near a source of water.

NEST: Builds nests in a slight depression on the ground or in tall, dense weedy or grassy cover, well concealed at the base of a tree or shrub, near a fallen tree or under a brush pile. Nests often located along fence rows, in road ditches, or in pastures and close to water.

FOOD: Consumes mostly seeds and leafy green vegetation, with only small amounts of animal food in the spring and summer.

REFERENCES: Bevier in Farrand 1983a, Browning 1977, Emlen and Glading 1945, Gutierrez 1979-1980, Leopold 1977, Sumner 1935, Terres 1980.

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