by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Did You Know . . ."

California Quail

california quail        Have you ever wondered about the two different Quail species in Utah? My Honey says that growing up in Salt Lake City, when he and his friends hiked the foothills around the valley they found Deer, Jack Rabbits, Prairie Dogs, and California Quail. When I was growing up in Dixie, and followed my big brother all over the hills, fields and open space, the quail we found were Gambelís Quail. Hummmmm . . . I needed to know more.

        Did you know that California Quail are not native to Utah where as Gambelís Quail are? Back in 1869, 14 pairs of California Quail were brought into the Salt Lake Valley for the first time by General John Gibbon. General John Gibbon was part of the US Army peacekeeping force, sent to Utah to monitor the Mormons. Within just a few years there was a breeding population of California Quail in the foothills around Fort Douglas. The Quail prospered in the new agriculture fields springing up in the Utah valleys, along with an abundance of insect life. The California Quail will adapt to almost any area where there are green plants and water. They are people tolerant and so easily adapted to the large properties of the settlers along the Wasatch Front. Later on, because of their successful introduction, more California Quail were brought into the northern part of the state.

        California Quail and Gambelís Quail are look-alike in body, shape, size and differ only in their coloring. Both beautiful birds have a black question mark attached to the forehead. The most noticeable difference is the California has a chestnut patch on the belly where the Gambelís has a black patch on the belly. On your next trip north, watch for the California Quail and compare them to our quail of southern Utah. Marilyn Davis is the artist this week. If you have questions about Birds or Red Cliffs Audubon activities call 435 673-0996.

Home - Red Cliffs Audubon