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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

Scaled Quail -- Callipepla squamata

RANGE: Resident from south-central Arizona, northern New Mexico, east-central Colorado, and southwestern Kansas south through western Oklahoma, western half of Texas, and into Mexico. Introduced and established in central Washington and eastern Nevada.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits dry, open country in valleys, plains, or foothills that have a mixture of bare ground, low herbaceous growth, and scattered brushy cover such as mesquite, soapweed, acacias, mimosas, scrub oaks, and other semi-desert shrubs. May be found on rocky, brushy slopes, draws, gullies, canyons, on sand sage grassland, and sometimes on shortgrass plains, pastures, and cultivated fields. If shrub cover is lacking, uses structures such as corrals, feedlots, and buildings for shade, resting areas, and escape cover. Winters in large coveys, usually within 1 1/4 miles from water.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Desert grassland or desert scrub with a minimum of 1 loafing covert per 70 acres, and a source of water.

NEST: Nests in a slight hollow on the ground in a protected and shaded site. The nest may be under shrubs or among grasses, under old machinery or junk, or under overhanging rocks.

FOOD: Feeds primarily on plant seeds, with some fruits and insects.

REFERENCES: Ault and Stormer 1983; Goodwin and Hungerford 1977; Johnsgard 1973, 1975a; Kelso 1937; Schemnitz 1961; Stormer 1981.

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