Natural Sightings #1630 - California Quail.jpeg

Chris Naftel took this photo in his backyard in Bear Valley Springs of a male California Quail performing sentry duty from atop a boulder.

California Quail (Callipepla californica) are found throughout the Tehachapi Mountains, wherever their basic needs of food, water, shelter and protection from predators can be met.

This is the time of year when quail are pairing off into couples and nesting. Even after they have formed a pair, however, for weeks afterward you can see still see them out foraging and going about their quail business, and you might wonder "How come they're not sitting on their eggs?"

The answer is that California Quail, like other birds with large clutches of eggs, including chickens, will wait until all the eggs are laid before they start incubating them. The eggs don't really start to develop until they have been kept warm, so the hen waits until she is done laying eggs, and then sits on them. In this way, all the eggs start developing simultaneously and will hatch within a few hours of each other, even if some of the eggs were laid two weeks earlier than others.

Little California Quail roosters will take up a location with good visibility, such as a fence post, tree stump or boulder, and keep an eye out for danger. If he sees something alarming, he will first warn his mate, offspring and any other quail in the area and then dive for cover.

The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Southern Paiute) word for California Quail is taara, pronounced TAAH-rah, with the "r" slightly rolled to imitate the sound of a quail's wingbeats.

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: