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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

Gambel's Quail -- Callipepla gambelii

RANGE: Resident from east-central California, southern Nevada, southern Utah, western Colorado, and northwestern New Mexico south to Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley of western Texas.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits desert scrub dominated by desert hackberry, mesquite, catclaw, buckhorn and cholla cactus; chaparral; and riparian areas; from sea level to elevations above 6,500 feet. Roosts in shrubs or low trees, where shade, brushy escape cover and succulent vegetation are available within about 1500 feet.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Open water or succulent vegetation.

NEST: Nests on the ground in a scratched-out depression, usually well concealed under tall grass, mesquite, sage, or other shrubs. Occasionally nests above ground in woodpiles, rotted stumps, or abandoned nests of thrashers, roadrunners, or cactus wrens.

FOOD: Consumed a diet of 44 percent forb seeds, 14 percent shrub seeds, 5 percent animal foods, 3 percent grass seeds, and 34 percent leafy vegetation in one study. Eats a variety of foods including deer-vetch, filaree, mesquite, paloverde, lupine, white-thorn, mimosa, saguaro, calowrightia, and insects (largely ants.) Eats succulent foods to maintain body moisture.

REFERENCES: Goodwin and Hungerford 1977, Gorsuch 1934, Harrison 1979, Hungerford 1962, Johnsgard 1975a.

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