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Looking for berries and seeds to eat, a group of California quail struts down a dirt road. The floppy black feathers that stick out of their heads quiver as they go. These birds chirp to each other during their search; it sounds like they’re saying, “chi-ca-go, chi-ca-go.” The animals will continue foraging for food throughout the day—meaning this lively bird parade will continue for a while longer.
WHERE THEY LIVE
California quail live mostly on the West Coast of the United States. They tend to hang out in open woodlands, near streams, and in parks. The California quail is the state bird of, well, California!
WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE
These birds have a cluster of overlapping feathers on top of their small heads that curl into a U shape. They have short necks; wide wings; and a long, square tail. Their round bellies are covered with gray, white, and rust-colored feathers. Female California quail have brown heads. The males’ heads are black with white stripes.
WHAT THEY EAT
They mainly eat seeds, berries, and flowers. The animals also chow down snails and small insects like caterpillars, beetles, and millipedes.
WHAT EATS THEM
HOW THEY BEHAVE
California quail spend most of their time on the ground, though they’ll burst into flight to avoid predators. They travel in small groups called coveys until spring when they pair off for breeding season. Females lay white eggs with brown markings. Some nests have as many as 28 eggs, because females “egg dump,” which means they lay eggs in other bird’s nests.
Text by April Capochino Myers