Chihuahuan Desert Wildlife: Gambel’s Quail

Gambel’s Quail

Lophortyx gambelii
Status: Least Concern
Size: 8.5 inches in length
Habitat: Southwest Deserts in the US and Mexico

Commonly seen in the El Paso area this quail species shares it’s desert habitat with Scaled Quail (also called Cotton-top Quail or Blue Quail).  A good place to watch for them is at the bird blind on the nature trail at Tom May’s Park.  

These pear-shaped birds have short legs and rounded wings. Males and females are similar in that their upper body is gray while their undersides are buff colored. A black throat, face and head plume characterize the male quail. Males are also adorned with a red cap and a white headband, while the female’s plume is smaller and the red cap and black coloration is not present. 

Gambel’s Quail feed on the ground in the morning and afternoon. They may form groups of up to 20 birds during the winter time. The female quail may produce two broods in a good year. Typically, she lays a clutch of 10 to 15 eggs, which hatch after 21 to 24 days. The young fledge after 10 days. 

Gambel’s Quail give a distinctive 3-4 note call. Often times you will hear them before you get a good look.

Cover by Renee Grayson, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Top by Mick Thompson, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Bottom by Darijus Strasunskas, Wikimedia Creative Commons

Renee Grayson

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