Gambel’s Quail (Callipepla gambelii)

The Gambel’s quail is a small common round bodied quail that is found in the desert regions of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Texas. They are slightly larger than the Bob White and slightly smaller than a Chukkar partridge. They can be mistaken for the California Quail except that the two species territories do not overlap and the male Gambel’s Quail has a black patch on the lower breast.

This quail can be easily recognized by the scaly plumage on their undersides and by their black plume of feathers on top of their heads called a topknot. Gambel’s Quail males have copper feathers on the top of their heads with gray plumage on much of their bodies. The females are similar but lack the copper feathering. They both have black heads, faces and white stripes above their eyes.

Gambel’s Quails dart among low cover of brush and mesquite thickets and can be found in groups, called coveys that can number up to a dozen. They will eat cactus fruit and seeds as they scratch in the dry dirt. As with most quail they can react to perceived danger by explosively flying skyward and away.

Interesting Facts

Although the Gambel's Quail is adapted to living in a dry, desert environment, it reproduces best in years with adequate rainfall.

The Gambel’s Quail is named in honor of William Gambel an explorer and naturalist from the Southwestern United States.

Both the male and the female have a black topknot although the males are fuller.

The Gambel’s quail is one of the five most popular quails in North America. Widely hunted they are a common species and are not considered endangered.