The Feather Files
Name: Gambel’s Quail
Species: Callipepla gambelii
Native to and Migration: Nonmigratory; lives in the hot deserts of the Southwest—the Sonoran, Mohave, and Chihuahuan—below about 5,500 feet elevation.
Date Seen: March 2015, April 2019
Location: North of Fountain Hills, Arizona
Notes: These birds walk or run along the ground in groups called coveys of a dozen or more birds. They scratch for food under shrubs and cacti and eat grasses and cactus fruits. Their flight is explosive, powerful, and short.
When you have Gambel’s Quail in your yard, which is pretty much most of the time, it is like watching clowns. They are just very funny birds that perch in the oddest places. They prefer walking and running to flying. Their little legs move incredibly fast when they are startled .