Quail has 'Star Wars-like' call

Published Jul 17, 2013 at 05:00AM

California quail

Scientific name: Callipepla californica

Characteristics: Medium-sized quail; adult males average 8.2 ounces in weight. The male's curled black head plume is distinctive and is made up of five to six individual feathers. The face has a white border along a black throat. Gray breast gives way to a sharply scaled belly while the upper sides are gray and brown.

Breeding: Builds a shallow ground nest beneath shrubs or debris that is lined with grass or leaves. Female lays and incubates up to 16 eggs for 18-23 days while the male stands guard and provides food.

Range: Historically from southern Oregon to Baja California; introduced into other portions of the Pacific Northwest and Southwest.

Habitat: Brushy areas, desert woodlands, canyons, agricultural and residential areas.

Food: Eats seeds and leaves of numerous plants, as well as berries, fruit and insects. Also eats grit for grinding seeds in its stomach.

Comments: The state bird of California. Both parents attend to the young chicks, which can walk soon after hatching. Parents may also engage in communal brooding where several family groups mix together and are watched over by all the adults. Call sounds like “chi-KA-go,” but also makes “Star Wars”-sounding “pew-pew” notes.

Current viewing: Widespread in Central Oregon.

— Damian Fagan is an East Cascades Audubon Society volunteer and COCC Community Learning instructor. He can be reached at damian.fagan@hotmail.com.

Sources: Oregon Department of Wildlife Resources and The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds by John Terres

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