California Quail

Odocoileus hemionus

California Quail


California quails are medium-sized birds, growing to about 25 centimetres long. Adults have grey feathers on most of their body and a dark throat, bill and legs. They have a brown head, a white stripe across their throat and above their eyes, and adults have a question mark-shaped curl of feathers growing on the top of their head.

Range & Habitat

They are found along the west coast of North America, in Chile and New Zealand. They are native to the west coast of California, Oregon and Baja California, but they have been introduced to British Columbia, Hawaii, Chile and New Zealand as pets and as meat birds. California quails usually live in wooded or protected areas and are often found near streams and valleys.

Diet & Behaviour

They eat mostly plant seeds, but will also eat fruit and insects. Quails, especially the babies, are coloured to blend in with their surroundings, and often run instead of flying to escape predators. They have been recorded running almost 20 kilometres per hour.

Lifecycle & Threats

In the fall and winter, California quails form large groups (over 1000 birds have been seen together) and in springtime start splitting off into pairs to mate. California quails lay an average of 15 eggs in early summer and the eggs take just over 20 days to hatch. Both parents look after the eggs and the new chicks can run within an hour of hatching. Quails are threatened by hunting and capture.


COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Introduced

More Information


Photo: Chuq Von Rospach