Quail in different sizes!

Above is a really good photo of a California Quail (Callipepla californica). That “scaled” belly pattern is the giveaway as to which type of quail you’re looking at! Their facial mask, topknot, and striped flanks all make them look similar to my personal favorite, the Gambel’s Quail ( Callipepla gambelii) but the Gambel’s has a solid black patch on it’s belly. There’s a photo of a Gambel’s male just below.

You can see that they must be closely related, and their behavior, diet, and preferred habitat are all very similar. These are definitely dryland birds, and they are found in the SouthWest deserts and drier areas of the US. I grew up hearing the Gambel’s call, and it’s one of the things I miss from home…

This little Northern Bobwhite hen is probably hoping to escape detection by opossums, raccoons, foxes, and coyotes, as well as the odd kestrel that would easily steal a chick. Bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) are common in grasslands and pastures here in the US, although they’ve become pretty uncommon where I’m located now in the Appalachian foothills. The literature I found cites human intervention in wildfires and the introduced fire ant as important factors in their decline.

We’re looking forward to raising some Bobwhites this year and having extras to be able to release once they’re grown…

And then there are the Button Quail (Coturnix chinensis) that live in the house with the rest of the “tame birds”. They’re called Buttons for good reason! They are so tiny that the eggs are smaller than a nickel, and the babies hatch out as small as my thumbnail! This years we’re starting with about a dozen adult birds, in three different colors. We’ll see how many babies we get grown – they’re very delicate as you’d probably guess.

They have a whole series of names: Chinese Painted Quail, Blue-Breasted Quail, Asian Blue Quail, King Quail and Chung-Chi. They’re the smallest “true quail”, and now come in a wide variety of colors to fascinate the bird breeder and fancier. They’re lively little birds that happily live in the bottoms of the finch and budgie cages, picking up the leftovers and generally minding their own business!

If you love birds, and you’ve got room in an aviary or even an indoor flight cage, I highly recommend Button Quail as a cleanup crew! This time of year they are starting to call, and their BIG “crow” sounds like it should belong to a much bigger bird!

 

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Happy Birding!

As always, feel free to email me at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com with comments, corrections, and complaints!

With Grace and Gratitude,

LeslieAnne Hasty

 

 

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