Published by the Smithsonian Institution between the 1920s and the 1950s, the Bent life history series of monographs provide an often colorful description of the birds of North America. Arthur Cleveland Bent was the lead author for the series. The Bent series is a great resource and often includes quotes from early American Ornithologists, including Audubon, Townsend, Wilson, Sutton and many others.

Bent Life History for the California Quail - the common name and sub-species reflect the nomenclature in use at the time the description was written.




The type race of this species originally inhabited the narrow strip of humid coast region from southwestern Oregon south to southern Monterey County, Calif. It has been introduced on Vancouver Island and in Washington, where it has become well established. It differs from the more widely known valley quail in having the upper parts olive-brown, rather than grayish brown, and the inner margins of the tertials deeper buff. It does not differ materially from the other races in its nesting, food, or general habits. A full account of the habits of the species is given under L. C. vallicola, the next form treated. J. Hooper Bowles (Dawson and Bowles, 1909) writes:

This bird and Its near relative, the Valley Partridge, are not natives of Washington; but, like the Mountain and the Plumed Partridge, were introduced here from the State of California. Dr. Suckley, one of our pioneer naturalists, tells us that as early as 1857 two shipments of birds were turned out in the vicinity of Puget Sound by Gav. Charles H. Mason and a Mr. Goldsborough. Conditions seem to have proved most suitable for them, since, in the face of constant persecution, they continued to increase in numbers, spreading their ranks over new territory every year. Although often found In dry, bushy uplands, they are much more inclined to damp localities than the Mountain Partridge, their favorite haunts being the low ground of the river valleys. Here they may be found searching for seeds in the weed-patches of the open fields, or gleaning amongst the growing cabbages, beans, and other vegetables of the farmer's garden. Indeed, few birds are so much the friends of the farmer as our partridges, for their food consists almost entirely of weed-seeds, worms, beetles, grass-hoppers, and other insects. What little of the newly-sown crops they may eat is repaid a thousand fold by the vast amount of good they accomplish.

Nesting: Mr. Bowles, in his notes sent to me, says:

Like most species of Introduced game birds these quail lay their eggs in the nests of other varieties of birds. I have in my collection a set of nine eggs of the sooty grouse and three eggs of this quail, personally taken here at Tacoma. All the eggs were heavily and evenly incubated.

I have also a nest of the Nuttall's sparrow containing four eggs of the sparrow and two eggs of this quail, which was taken near the city of Seattle, Wash., on May 8, 1918. Incubation was slight. This set was collected and presented to me by D. E. Brown, of Seattle. HIs notes say that one of the quail eggs was on end in the nest, the other on top of two of the sparrow eggs. The sparrow was on the nest and showed much anxiety.

Eggs: The eggs of this quail are indistinguishable from those of the valley quail, but they average slightly larger. The measurements of 60 eggs average 32 by 25 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 35.5 by 24.5, 35 by 26, 30 by 24, and 31 by 23 millimeters.

Range: Southwestern Oregon, California, extreme western Nevada, and Lower California. Successfully introduced in Washington, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and British Columbia, as well as Hawaii, New Zealand, Chile, and probably locally in France.

Because of the many attempts to extend the range of this species in the Western States, it is difficult to outline the area to which they are indigenous. It appears, however, that the natural range extends north to southwestern Oregon (Anchor and Algoma). East to Oregon (Algoma and Klamath Falls); western Nevada (Anaho Island and Stiliwater) ; south-central California (Fresno, Tehachapi, and San Bernardino); and southeastern' Lower California (Pinchalinque Bay, Triunfo, and San Jose del Cabo). South to southern Lower California (San Jose del Cabo and Cape St. Lucas). West to Lower California (Cape St. Lucas, San Javier, Rosarito, San Andres, San Quintin Bay, and Los Coronados Islands); western California (San Diego, Santa Catalina Island, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Watsonville, Alameda, San Francisco, Marysville, Chico, and Baird); and southwestern Oregon (Grants Pass and Anchor).

The range as above outlined is for the entire species. True californica is restricted to the humid coast region from southwestern Oregon south to Monterey County, Calif. The valley quail (L. c. vallicola) occupies the rest of the range south to the northwestern corner of Lower California (about latitude 320 N.), including Los Coronados Islands. The birds found on Catalina Island have been described as a distinct race, Lophortyx c. catalinensis.

In Lower California, in addition to vallicola, which occurs in the northwestern part, the species has been divvied into two subspecies. The San Quintin quail (L. c. plumbea) is distributed over most of the territory between latitudes 300 and 320 N., while the San Lucas quail (L. c. achru8tera) is found from latitude 300 N. south to Cape San Lucas. There is more or less intergradation in the areas where these races meet.

As previously indicated, the California quail has been a favorite in attempts at transplantation. The birds on Los Coronados Islands are considered by some to be introduced, although there also is evidence that they fly back and forth to the mainland. They have been successfully introduced into Nevada (Virginia City, McDermitt, Quinn River Valley, Paradise Valley, Lovelock, and probably also Carson City and Reno); Oregon (Willamette Valley and Jackson and Josephine Counties); Utah (Salt Lake County and Ogden); Washington (Olympia, Garfield County, Walla Walla County, Yakima County, and probably many other points, as they are now well distributed over the western part of the State, including the islands in Puget Sound and Bellingham Bay); British Columbia (Vancouver Island, Denman Island, and the Okanagan Valley). Attcmpts to introduce this species in Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, Mississippi, and Missouri have not been successful, although in a few instances the birds seemed to thrive during the first season.

California quail also have been successfully transplanted to the Hawaiian Islands (Hawaii, Maui, and Molokai), New Zealand, and Chile. Other foreign experiments apparently have failed.

Egg dates: California (californica): 92 records, January 12 to July 21; 46 records, May '8 to' June 8. Washington and British Columbia: 10 records, May 11 to July 3. California (vallicola) 125 records, February 9 to October 29; 63 records, May 1 to June 5.

VALLEY QUAIL [Current A.O.U. = California Quail]


The valley quail being the most widely distributed form, it shall have the most complete life history of the species- as it is the best known of the various subspecies. In Pasadena and vicinity, southern California, it is a common dooryard bird, coming regularly into the city to feed on the lawns and to roost in the trees and shrubbery. On Dr. Louis B. Bishop's lawn, in the thickly settled part of Pasadena, one might see from 10 to 20 of the pretty birds almost any afternoon after 4 o'clock. Although rigidly protected and regularly fed, they seemed very nervous and shy; if they saw us moving, even at a window, they would run or fly into the shrubbery. J. Eugene Law has a flock of 100 to 200 birds, which he feeds every morning during winter on his driveway in Altadena. I was able to photograph some of these birds one morning from a blind, but I found them very nervous; at the slightest noise or movement, they would all fly off but would soon return. Mr. Law told me that these quail all bred in the vicinity, nesting commonly in the old abandoned vineyards overgrown with rank grasses and weeds. They travel around in flocks during winter but begin to break up into pairs during March. The latest flocks I saw were two small flocks on April 1. Outside of the cities and towns we saw these quail on the brush-covered hillsides, on the grassy plains in the wider canyons, in cultivated fields and in the fruit orchards, or almost anywhere that they can find a little cover.

Claude T. Barnes writes to me:

In northern Utah the favorite habitat of the valley quail (L. o. vallicola~) is the patches of scrub oak (Quercus earn bell ii), which grow upon the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains and along the deeper stream-gullies of the valleys. It Is very fond, also, of fences along which, in early days, the golden currant (Ribes aureum) was planted and permitted to spread along irrigation ditches; in fact, any dense covert adjacent to grainfields and near one of the many crystal streams for which the region is noted suits very well this semidomesti cated bird. Many farmers, convinced of not only the aesthetic but also the economic value of the quail, habitually in winter sprinkle grain upon the snow about their barnyards for the quickly responding coveys.

Courtship: W. Leon Dawson (1923) writes:

The Quail's year begins some time in March or early April, when the coveys begin to break up and, not without some heart-burnings and fierce passages ~t arms between the cocks, Individual preferences begin to hold sway. It is then that the so-called "assembly call," Icu kwalc' up, ku kwak' up, ku kwak' u Ick o, is heard at its best; for this Is also a mating call; and if not always directed toward a single listener, it is a notice to all and sundry that the owner is very bappy, and may be found at tbe old stand. Although belonging to a polygamous family, the Valley Quail is very particular in his affections; and indeed, from all that we may learn, is at all times a very perfect model of a husband and father. Even In domestication, with evil examples all about and temptresses in abundance, the male quail Is declared to be as devoted to a single mate as in the chaparral, where broad acres may separate him from a rival.

Nesting: The valley quail is not at all particular about the choice of a nesting site and is not much of a nest builder. A slight hollow in the ground lined with grass or leaves may be well hidden under a bush, hedge, or brush pile, beside a log or rock, in some thick clumps of grass or weeds in an orchard or vineyard, in a clump of cactus or pricklypear, under the base of a haystack in an open field, or even in a cranny in a rock. W. Leon Dawson (1923) shows a photograph of a nest in the latter type of location. Often the nest is near a house, in a garden, or close to a much-traveled path or road. This quail often lays its eggs in other birds' nests. M. L. Wicks (1897) tells an interesting story of a partnership nesting with a longtailed chat; the quail had laid two eggs in the chat's nest, in which the chat laid four eggs; both birds took turns at incubating. Harold M. Holland (1917) twice found a quail occupying a road runner's nest. John G. Tyler (1918) speaks of a curious habit this quail has of dropping its eggs at random anywhere; this happens early in the season, and he thinks it is due to the fact that the vines under which it wants to nest have not yet developed enough foliage for concealment. Grinnell, Bryant, and Storer (1918) mention a few more odd nesting sites, as follows:

H. B. Taylor records the finding of ten fresh California Quail's eggs in a Spurred Towhee's nest in a cypress hedge about four feet from the ground, and also two eggs of this quail in a Spurred Towhee's nest on the ground, both In Alameda. Near Los Angeles, Wicks found two eggs of the Valley Quail in a Long-tailed Chat's nest. Several cases of tree-nesting of the California Quail came to the attention of W. E. Bryant. The sites whieb had been chosen were the upright ends of broken or decayed limbs, or the Intersections of two large branches. The same observer found a nest in a vine-covered trelUs over a much-used doorway, from which the young later successfully reached the ground. Howell found a nest with three fresh eggs four feet above the ground on top of a bale of hay in the shade of aa orange tree at Covina, Los Angeles County.

Mr. Dawson (1923) tells of a nest placed "on a horizontal stretch of dense wistaria covering an arbor, at a height of 10 feet from the ground"; when the young were hatched the parent birds called them, and they came tumbling down, stunned at first but not seriously injured. He mentions another nest on the roof of a house.

Eggs: The valley quail lays ordinarily from 12 to 16 eggs; large sets of more than 20 eggs are sometimes found, but these may be the product of two hens. They are short ovate in shape, and sometimes rather pointed; the shell is thick and hard, with little or no gloss. The ground colors vary from "cream buff" to "ivory yellow" or, rarely, dull white. They are usually heavily marked and show considerable variation. Some eggs are well covered with large blotches, irregularly scattered; others are evenly covered with minute dots; but there are many intermediate variations, and there is generally a mixture of both kinds of markings on the same egg and several types of eggs in the same set. An occasional egg is entirely unmarked. The colors of the markings are dull browns, varying from "snuff brown" or "cinnamon-brown" to "Isabella color." The measurements of 77 eggs average 31 by 24 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 34 by 25, 32 by 26, and 28 by 23 millimeters.

Young: Mrs. Irene G. Wheelock (1904) writes:

Incubation requires three weeks, and usually the hen alone broods the eggs. after the young are hatched they are kept in the underbrush or heavy stubble and can rarely be discovered, so expert at hiding are they. Like the California partridge they run to cover rather than fly, and they are so swift-footed that It Is almost impossible to flush them. When the young are feeding, the adult males constantly call them, either to keep the covey together or to give warning of danger, and they answer each call with a faint piping note. This Is not unlike the scatter call of the Eastern Bob White, but consists of two syllables In one tone, or one longer note. It is not unusual to come upon a covey of these when driving through the foothills and valleys of Southern California, hut the sensation is simply of something scampering into the brush rather than a definite sight of any bird, unless the cock comes out Into view for a moment to sound his warning and draw your attention from the brood to his handsome self.

Bendire (1892) quotes William Proud as saying that only one brood is raised in a season, that incubation lasts about 18 days, and that "as soon as the young are hatched, they immediately leave the nest, keeping under cover as much as possible. Should the brood be disturbed, the old birds will run and flutter along the ground to draw the attention of the dog, or whatever may have frightened them, to themselves and away from the young. In about 10 days these can fly a short distance." F. X. Holzner (1896) says:

I walked unsuspectingly upon a bevy of Valley Partridges (Ca flipepla californica vaflicola), consisting of an old male and female with about 15 young ones. They were In a crevice of a fallen cottonwood-tree. On my stepping almost upon them, the male bIrd ran out a few feet and raised a loud call of oG-ra-ko; while the female uttered short calls, addressed to her brood. Seeing me. she picked up a young one between her legs, heat the ground sharply with her wings, and made towards the bush, In short jumps, holding the little one tightly between her legs, the remainder of the brood following her.

Plumages: In the small chick of this species the front half of the crown and sides of the head are "ochraceous-tawny"; a broad band of "russet," bordered with black, extends from the center of the crown to the hind neck, and there is an auricular stripe of the same color; the rest of the upper parts are from "ochraceous-buff" to "warm buff," striped, banded, or blotched with black; the chin and throat are white, and the rest of the underparts are grayish white, suffused with buff on the breast.

As with all young quail and grouse, the juvenal plumage comes in while the chkk is still very small, the wings and scapulars sprouting first, so that the young birds can fly before they are half grown. In the full juvenal plumage, the forehead is "hair brown," the crown and hind neck "wood brown," and the chin and throat "drab gray"; the feathers of the back, wing coverts, and scapulars are from "hair brown" to "clay color," with median stripes of buffy white, broadest on the scapulars, peppered with black and tipped or banded near the end with black; the tertials are from "sayal ~ to " cinnamon," peppered with black, and bordered on the inner edge with a broad band of black and a broad edge of " pinkish buff"; the rump is grayish buff, barred with dusky and whitish; the tail is from " drab " to grayish buff, tipped with " cinnamon," and peppered and barred with blackish brown; the underparts are grayish white, barred with dusky, more buffy, and marked with triangular whitish spots on the chest; the head crest is "warm sepia." The sexes are alike.

A complete postjuvenal molt, except for the primary coverts and the outer pairs of primaries, begins before the young bird has attained its full growth. The time varies, of course, with the date of hatching, but it takes place between August and October. The last of the juvenal plumage is seen on the head and neck. This molt produces the first winter plumage, which is practically indistinguishable from the adult, except for the outer pairs of juvenal primaries and primary coverts, which are retained until the next postnuptial molt. The sexes are now different.

Young birds and adults have a partial prenuptial molt, confined to the head and neck, early in spring, and a complete molt late in summer and early in fall. Hybrids between this species and gainbeli and between this and picta have been recorded, where the ranges of the species come together.

Food: These quail are very regular in their feeding habits. When they have found a good feeding place they resort to it day after day, often traveling long distances on foot and not flying unless forced to. They travel in flocks at all times except during the nesting season, when they are paired. Formerly they came to the watering places in immense flocks of hundreds, but now in flocks of 30 or 40, or aggregations of two or three families. Their feeding hours are for an hour or two after sunrise and an hour or two before sunset. During the middle of the day they congregate near the drinking places or rest in the shade of trees or bushes. While feeding, one bird acts as sentinel or guard until relieved by others in turn.

Grinnell, Bryant, and Storer (1918) write:

The Valley and California quails are believed to be more exclusively vegetarian than any other of our game birds, save those of the pigeon family. The United States Bureau of Biological Survey, in an examination of 619 stomachs (representing both subspecies), found that only about S per cent of the food consisted of animal matter. The remaining 97 per cent was vegetahie material and consisted of 2.3 per cent fruit, 6.4 per cent grain, about 25 per cent grass and other foliage, and 62.5 per cent seeds. The animal food comprised chiefly insects, and of these, ants were most frequently present. Some beetles, bugs, caterpillars, grasshoppers, flies, spiders, "thousand-leggers/' and snails were also found in the stomachs examined. A case is cited by Beal of a brood of young quail feeding extensively on black scale.

Fruit evidently does not form any important part of the food of the quail, as it was found in only about one-sixth of the stomachs and then only in very small quantities. Damage is sometimes done to grapes, but this is not shown clearly by examination of stomach coatents. Beal mentions two cases where 1,000 and 5,000 quail, respectively, had been seen feeding upon grapes in vineyards. Under such circumstances severe loss was undoubtedly sustained; hut these are exceptional instances. Florence A. Merriam states that on the ranch of Major Merriam at Twin Oaks, San Diego County, quail were in 1889 so abundant as to be a severe pest. For several years previonsly great flocks of them came down the canons to the vineyard, "where they destroyed annually from 20 to 30 tons of fruit." A report comes from the Fresno district to the effect that grape growers are occasionally troubled by the birds scattering the drying raisins from the trays.

Behavior: The movements and actions of valley quail seem to me strikingly like those of our eastern bobwhites, except that they are less inclined to fly or to hide and more inclined to run. When alarmed or forced to fly they jump into the air with a similar whir of wings and dash away with an equal burst of speed, scaling down into the nearest cover on stiff, down-curved wings. If they alight on the ground, they do not stop, but continue running at terrific speed, their long, strong legs fairly twinklitig in a hazy blur; it seems as if they continued to fly along the ground almost as fast as they flew in the air. On the ground their movements are quick, alert, and graceful; their trim and pretty little bodies are held in a semierect attitude, leaning forward a little as they run, with the crest held forward. They are most attractive in appearance and most winning in their confiding ways. John J. Williams (1903) made some very interesting observations on the use of sentinels by valley quail; his article is well worth read ing in detail, but I prefer to quote Grinnell, Bryant, and Storer's (1918) summary of it, as follows:

A flock was heard calling and moving about on a brushy hillside some distance from the observer, but before coming Into view a single individual preceded the rest and took his station In the branches of an apple tree, whence he could survey the region round about. After carefully scrutinizing his surroundings for several minutes the kayrk note was uttered several times in a low guttural tone. Soon members of the flock were seen coming down the hill in the same direction as taken by the sentinel, but their manner of approach was entirely different; he had exercised great caution and carefully examined the surroundings for possible danger, while they came with their plumed heads held low, searching among the clover roots for seeds and other articles of food. Some preened and fluffed out their feathers; others took dust baths. While so occupied they all kept up a succession of low conversational notes. Meanwhile the sentinel remained on his perch and continued on the alert even after the flock had moved some distance beyond him. Then a second bird mounted a vantage point and took up the sentinel duty and after a few minutes the first relinquished his post. While the flock was still In view, yet a third bird relieved the second. It would seem that by this practice, of establishing sentinels on a basis of divided labor, the flock had Increased its Individual efficiency in foraging. The same observer also states that he had seen sentinels used when a flock was crossing a road, or when "bathing" In the roadside dust, and that the practice is made general use of In open areas; but he had never observed the habit when the birds were in tree-covered localities. During the breeding, season it is known that the male mounts guard while the female Is searching for a nesting site, and again when she Is Incubating the eggs. Sometimes he also performs this guard function after the chicks are out but not fully grown.

Unlike our eastern bobwhite, which roosts on the ground, the valley quail roosts at night in safer places, in bushes or in low, thick-foliaged trees. In the treeless region of Lower California, Laurence M. Huey (1927) found quail roosting in the centers of cactus patches. Dawson (1923) says he has "seen a wounded bird swim and dive with great aplomb."

Voice: Some of the notes of this quail suggest the familiar bobwhite of our eastern quail. Grinnell, Bryant, and Storer (1918) have described them very well, as follows:

The Valley Quail has a variety of notes which are used under different conditions and to express various meanings. When anxious or disturbed the members of a flock utter a soft pit, pit, pit, or whit, whit, whit, in rapid succession, as they run about under the brush or when about to take wing. Then there Is a loud call used by the males to assemble the flock when scattered. This has been variously interpreted as ce-loi'-o, o-hi'-O, tuck-a-hoe', Ic-woik'-uh, ki-ke-kce', ca-re'-ho, tuck-ke-tcu', or more simply as who-ere'-youah. However, the ensiest and by far the most usual interpretation Is comeright'-here, or come-right-home, with the accent on the second syllable. Sometimes when excited a bird calls come-right, come-right, come-right-here. In at least one instance a female bird has been observed to utter this call. The notes of the Valley Quail are less elaborate than those of the Desert Quail, the "crow" lacking the two additional notes which the latter gives at the end; also the Valley Quail lacks much of the conversational twitter of its desert relative.

Enemies: Quail have numerous enemies; the eggs and young of these and other ground-nesting birds are preyed upon by crows, ravens, jays, snakes, raccoons, weasels, skunks, squirrels, and badgers; the adults also are pursued and killed by hawks, owls, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and domestic cats and dogs. Gopher snakes are particularly fond of quail's eggs. Joseph Dixon (1930) tells a striking story of a brood of 19 young quail that was entirely destroyed by a pair of California jays, which he says are one of the quail's worst enemies; he saw four chicks carried off by one jay within 15 minutes.

Game: The California quail, in its two forms, has often been referred to as the game bird of California, has been hunted by more sportsmen and market hunters than any other bird, and has been killed in enormous numbers. Its great abundance in former years seems almost unbelievable to-day. Dr. A. K. Fisher (1893) wrote:

Throughout the San Joaquin Valley, Mr. Nelson found it common about ranches, along water courses or near springs. It was excessively abundant at some of the springs in the hills about the Templca Mountains and Carrizo Plain. In the week following the expiration of the close season, two men, pot hunting for the market, were reported to have killed 8,400 quail at a solitary spring In the Temploa Mountains. The men built a brush blind near the spring, which was the only water within a distance of 20 miles, and as evening approached the quails came to it by thousands. One of Mr. Nelson's informants who saw the birds at this place stated that the ground all about the water was covered by a compact body of quails, so that the hunters mowed them down by the score at every discharge.

Grinnell, Bryant, and Storer (1918) say:

In the days when the Valley Quail was plentiful far beyond its condition to-day, it was a common bird on the markets and could be obtained at practic;ully every hotel end restaurant. Records show that during the season 18115: 96 as many as 70,370 quail (mostly Valley Quail) were sold on the markets of San Francisco and Los Angeles; while an earlier report states that full 100,000 were disposed of in a single year in the markets of San Francisco. W. T. Martin, of Pomona, states that in 1881: 84 he and a partner hunted Valley Quail in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties for the San Francisco markets. Eight to fourteen dozen were secured daily, and in the fall of 1883 the two men secured 300 dozen in 17 days. Martin himself secu'ed 114 birds in one day's huut. In 1881 and 1882 over 32.000 dozen Quail were shipped to San Francisco from Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, an(l bought to the hunters engaged in the business one dolla i a dozen. In those ,la,~ rest:urants charged thirty (Cots for tua il: mi-toast. By 1885 hunting had become unprofitable because of the reduction in the numbers of quail.

Quoting from T. S. Van Dyke (1892), they say:

At your first advauce into the place where the quail last settled in confusion, a dozen or more rise in front of you and as many more on each side anywhere from 5 to 50 yards away. They burst from the brush with rapid flight and whizzing wing, most of them with a sharp, clear, pit, pit, pit, which apprizes their comrades of the danger and the course of escape taken. Some dart straight away in a dark blue line, making none too plain a mark against the dull background of brush, and vanish in handsome style, unless you are very quick with the gun. Others wheel off on either side, the scaling of their breasts showing In the sunlight as they turn, and making an altogether beautiful mark as they mount above the skyline. Some swing about and pass almost over your head, so that you can plainly see the black and white around their heads and throats, and the cinnamon shading of their under surfaces.

Although this quail is a splendid game bird and as good on the table as our eastern quail, all sportsmen who have shot both seem to agree that our bobwhite is a far more satisfactory bird to hunt. The valley quail will not lie to a dog, unless thoroughly frightened; it has a most exasperating habit of running, which is quite disheartening to both man and dog. Dwight IV. Huntington (1903) referring to Mr. Van Dyke's comments on the former abundance and habits of this quail, says:

He said that when be first came to California, in 1875, quail in flocks now quite incredible soared out of almost every cactus patch, shook almost every hillside with the thunder of a thousand wings, trotted in strings along the roads, wheeled in platoons over the grassy slopes and burst from around almost every spring in a thousand curling lines. The same writer says that the partridges have already deserted many of the valleys and are no~v more often found in the hills, ready always to run and fly from one hillside to another, and "their leg power, always respectable enough to relieve you from any question of propriety about shooting at one running, they have cultivated to such a fine point that sometimes they never rise at all, and you may chase and chase and chase them and get never a rise." Writing at another time Mr. Van Dyke advises the shooter not to attempt to bag anything at first, but to spend all the time in breaking and scattering the coveys, racing and chasing after them and firing broadsides over their heads and in front of them, until they are in "a state of such alarm that they will trust to hiding." He then advises that the dog (which I presume has been used in coursing the birds) be tied to a shady bush and that the coat be laid aside, that the sportsman may travel fast after the scattered birds.

Occasionally they may behave differently and offer good sport, as in the following account by Henshaw (1874):

As a rule, their ways are not such as to endear them to the sportsman; for they are apt to be wary, and unless under specially favorable circumstances, are not wont to lie closely. I have, however, flushed a large bevy contiguous to a bushy pasture where the scrub was about knee-deep, xvith cattle-paths through it, and have had glorious sport. The birds lay so close as to enable me to walk almost over them, when they got up by twos and threes, and ~vent off in floe style. The sportsman may now and then stumble upon such chances, but they do not come often. A bevy once up, off they go, scattering but little unless badly scared, the main body keeping well together; anti having flown a safe distance they drop, but not to hide and he flushed uae after another at the leisure of the sportsman. The moment their feet touch firm ground, off they go like frightened deer, and if, as is often the case, they have been flushed near some rocky hill, they will pause not a moment till they have gained its steep sides, up which it would be worse than useless to follow. Should they, however, be put up hard by trees, they will dive in among the foliage and hide, and there standing perfectly motionless will sometimes permit one to approach to the foot of the tree they are lodged in ere taking wing.

Winter: What birds are left in the big flocks, after the sportsmen have taken their toll, remain together during fall and winter, formerly in great droves of hundreds, but now more often in flocks of 40 or 60. They are not migratory to any extent. A. C. Lowell, one of Major Bendire's (1892) correspondents in Nevada, told him that they were not able to stand the severe cold, accompanied by a heavy fall of snow in the Wariier Valley; 2 feet of snow and 3 nights of 280 below zero killed most of the birds. On the other hand, Major Bendire (1892) tells of a flock that spent the winter successfully near Fort Klamath, Oreg., where the snowfall is quite heavy and the thermometer fell "more than once considerably below zero."

CATALINA QUAIL [Current A.O.U. = California Quail]


Based on a series of six specimens Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1906) gave the name Lophortyx califor.nica catalinen,si.s to the California quail inhabiting Santa Catalina Island. He characterized it as similar to the valley quail, "but about 9 per cent larger throughout, and coloration somewhat darker; similar to L. c. californicu~s, but larger and much less deeply brownish dorsally." He says further:

The bulkiness of ca~tct1inensia is at once apparent when one sees it among specimens of the mainland valiicola. The tail is particularly long, the rectrices being proportionately broader. The bill is heavier, and the toes and tarsi decidedly stouter These characters hold equally in the males and females. In coloration cataflnenai8 shows a deepening of shades especially on the lower surface. In both sexes the flanks and lower tail-coverts are more broadly streaked with brown; the terminal black edgings of the lower breast feathers are broader, and the light markings beneath are suffused with deeper ochraceous. Especially in the femnie of cataflnensis is the lower surface darker than in vaflicoia, due to the encroachment of the dark portions of each parti-colored feather upon the light part. The dorsal surface is not however much browner than in valUcola: it is decidedly slaty as compared with the deep bright van dyke brown of callfornicus from the vicinity of San Francisco Bay.

It was thought at first that these quail had been introduced from the mainland, but more recent evidence shows that they were probably native on the island, which perhaps was once connected with the mainland. Doctor Grinnell (1906) was assured that they were there at least as early as 1859.

After examining a series of 16 skins, at a later date, Doctor Grinnell (1908) writes:

When compared with a series of the mainland vail frola the island birds are distinguished by larger size, especially of the feet, broadness of terminal barring on the posterior lower surface, and broadness of shaft-streaks on lower tail coverts and flanks. An additional character which shows up in the larger series is the averaging more intense and extensive chestnut patch on the hind chest, in the male, of course. This does not seem to be due to the different "make" of the skins. An examination of individual variation in the two series shows that any one character alone is uot diagnostic of every single individual. For instance, a small-footed island bird can be duplicated in that respect by an extra large-footed mainland bird. But at the same time the barring and streaking of the former renders it easily recognizable. Then in the matter of barring on the lower surface, a mainland female appears as heavily marked as the average island female. BUt at the same time the former has a decidedly shorter wing and weaker foot. It is therefore evident that there is a mergence of separate characters thin individual variation; and according to the criterion now apparently most popular, the island form would be given a trinomial appellation. The binomial, however, appears to me most useful, as it. signifies complete isolation because of the intervention of a barrier.

SAN QUINTIN QUAIL [Current A.O.U. = California Quail]


Under the name Lopkorty0 ca2ifornica plumbea Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1926) has separated the quail found in certain parts of northern Lower California from the subspecies found on either side of it. He describes the new form as "in general characters similar to LopAortya~ caZifornica valZicola and L. a. ackru8tera, but tone of coloration clearer, less buffy or brownish; gray or lead-color on dorsum, foreparts and sides, and remiges, more slaty than in either." He says further:

It should go without saying that in quail fresh fall plumages should be relied upon chiefly, if not altogether, in seeking color values. When this is done, the quail of the "San Quintin district" show themselves to differ in mass effect appreciably from Valley Quail from anywhere north of the Mexican line. San Diego County birds, even, and those from Riverside and Inyo counties, well east of the desert divides, all are markedly browner dorsally, the remiges browner, the chest less clearly ashy gray, and the "ground" tone of the hinder flanks and crissum more brightly tan. This holds for both sexes. The creamy area on the lower chest of male plumbea, while not so pale as in achrustera, is not so deep-toned as in average t,allkoia. In females the grayness about the head and on the chest In plumbea Is almost constantly diagnostic; and in both sexes, the piumbeous tone of the remiges is as a rule strikingly different from the brown tone in vaflicola. In the dried specimens, the feet and legs of pium~ea average blacker than in VGZUCOZC.

Referring to its distribution and haunts, he says in a later publication (1928):

Abundant resident of the northwestern portion of the territory, roughly between latitudes 300 and 320: practically as comprised In the San Quintin subfaunal district. While the metropolis of the subspecies lies on the Pacific slope of the peninsula, colonies or pairs occur also to the eastward, In canyons at the east base of the Sierra San Pedro Martir, and even at San Felipe, on the Gulf coast (Mus. Vert. Zool.). As regards life-zone, inhabits the Lower Sonoran, Upper Sonoran, and Transition, without any seeming choice. Assoclationally, adheres to an open or interrupted type of chaparral, especially as adjacent to springs or water-courses. Altitudinally, extends from sea level up to as high as 8,800 feet, on the Sierra San Pedro Martir.

Eggs: The eggs are probably indistinguishable from those of other races of California quail. Griffing Bancroft (1930) says that the measurements of 150 eggs average 30.6 by 23.3 millimeters.

SAN LUCAS QUAIL [Current A.O.U. = California Quail]


James L. Peters (1923) is responsible for the name L. c. acAyu8tera, which he has applied to the quail of this species inhabiting southern Lower California. Based on the examination of a series of 27 males and 15 females, he says that it is "similar to Lophortyx californic~ vaZlicola (Ridgway), I)ut slightly paler above; band across breast grayer; the buffy patch on the lower breast of the male much paler; dark feather-edgings on the lower breast, middle and sides of abdomen, narrower; flanks paler." William Brewster (1902), with much of the same material, noticed that the Lower California specimens were "slightly paler" than California birds and their bills averaged "a little heavier," but he did not consider these differences well marked or constant. But Peters (1923) says that "while the bill character is of no diagnostic value, the color characters are constant and serve to distinguish the valley quail of southern Lower California almost at a glance." Griffing Bancroft (1930) says of their haunts: "They insist on riparian associations, but they follow these without regard either to altitude or to the character of the country adjoining the stream beds. They definitely do not require the presence of water."

Nesting: Of the nesting of the San Lucas quail, Bancroft (1930) says:

Our experience with the breeding of these quail was limited to San Ignaclo. That was because the nests were too well bidden to be found, except accidentally, and those we saw were shown to us by the natives. Three of the sites were In damp ground In rank grass; one of them, to our surprise, on a tiny Islet in a swamp. Two nests were In vineyards, two In natural cavities among the sucker growths of date palms, and one was under a lava rock on the mesa. In all but the last three cases the birds had excavated a cup nearly as deep as It was broad and had lined It with materials b?ought in, grass, leaves, and feathers. The breeding season commences about the first of June and is hardly well under way until after the middle of that month. The number of eggs In a clutch is rather consistently ten or eleven, sixteen being the most we found In any one nest.

Eggs: He gives the average measurements of 80 eggs as 32.3 by 24.7 millimeters. The measurements of 15 eggs in P. B. Philipp's collection average 31.8 by 24.3 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 33.6 by 25.4, 29.7 by 23.4, and 31.3 by 23.1 millimeters.

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