Natural Sightings #599 - California Quail Hen.jpg

Jessica Martin took this photo in Bear Valley Springs of a California Quail hen perched in a tree along the nature trail near Baubien Field.

While male California Quail (Callipepla californica) tend to get more attention, the females are also subtly beautiful with delicate white marking striping their grayish bodies.

Females have black top knot feathers like the males, but theirs are shorter and more upright. Like the females of most bird species, quail hens are more drab and less showy, which helps them blend in with their surroundings when incubating eggs on the nest.

Females are simply more essential to the continuation of the species, and while the males do play vital roles, the mother birds are needed more constantly and over a longer period of time for laying eggs, incubating the eggs and caring for the young.

California Quail were formerly known as California Valley Quail or simply Valley Quail, until enough people pointed out that although they can be found in a variety of habitats, these birds seem most fond of foothills, slopes, and uneven ground, rather than just flat valleys. So the common name was changed to simply California Quail, and these charismatic residents remain the State Bird of California.

The Nuwa (Kawaiisu or Pauite) word for California Quail is taara, pronounced “tah-r-r-r-ah” with the “r” slightly rolled to imitate that sound that quail wingbeats make when the birds are startled and suddenly flush from shrubs or undergrowth.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to:

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