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Gambel's Quail - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Dave Hawkins
Stateline Road, Portal, Arizona, USA
Callipepla gambelii


10-11 1/2" (25-29 cm)
A stocky, mainly gray quail with a curved black head plume.

Male has bold black face and throat, chestnut crown, rusty sides with diagonal stripes, and unscaled buff-white belly with black patch in center.


Photo by UncleGus_24
Green Valley, Arizona, July 2011

Resident in south-western deserts from California east to Texas. Introduced in Idaho and western New Mexico. Introduced on some of the Hawaiian Islands, where it is usually difficult to find among the more numerous California Quail.



There are 5 subspecies[1]:

  • C. g. gambelii:
  • western United States (from southern Nevada, southern Utah, and western Colorado) south to northwestern Mexico (northeastern Baja California and northern Sonora)
  • C. g. ignoscens:
  • C. g. pembertoni:
  • C. g. fulvipectus:
  • South-eastern Arizona and south-western New Mexico to north-western Mexico (to southern Sonora and northwestern Sinaloa)
  • C. g. stephensi:
  • Western Mexico (southern Sonora adjacent to Sinaloa border)


Desert thickets; arid country.


These desert-dwelling quail are attracted to water and gather in large numbers, often representing several coveys, to drink at stock tanks maintained for cattle.


The 10-20 buff-colored eggs, spotted with brown, are laid in a depression lined with grass and twigs at base of tall shrub or mesquite.


A ringing puk-kwaw-cah, with second syllable highest in pitch.
The ringing call of the male, heard even in the heat of day, is one of the characteristic sounds of the desert Southwest.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2021. IOC World Bird List (v 11.2). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.11.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/

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