California Quail

Callipepla californica
Range Map

Formerly known as “Valley Quail”, this species has been introduced widely across the western USA. Populations have now been established around the world, in places such as South America, Hawaii, and New Zealand.

There are eight recognized subspecies:

  • C. c. achrustera or San Lucas California Quail lives in southern Baja California.
  • C. c. brunnescens lives in northern coastal California.
  • C. c. californica lives from northern Oregon and western Nevada to southern California and on the Coronado Islands (Mexico).
  • C. c. canfieldae or Owen Valley quail lives in the Owens Valley of east central California.
  • C. c. catalinensis or Santa Catalina quail lives on Santa Catalina Island off the southern California coast.
  • C. c. orecta or Warner Valley Quail lives in the Warner Valley in Oregon and northern California.
  • C. c. plumbea or San Quintin California Quail lives in San Diego County and southern Baja California (Mexico).
  • C. c. orecta lives in southeastern Oregon and northeastern California.

In San Diego County, the California Quail population has slowly declined. Slow but steady, over-development and residential sprawl has pushed them into the margins of the backcountry. I remember as a teen, fields not 500 yards from my home exploding in thunderous clouds of quail as we hiked through. To say “hundreds” of birds would be insufficient. I’d estimate the numbers as a few thousand. Later, as developers ground down the native chaparral, paving and grading plots for “little boxes made of ticky tacky”, the quails disappeared. Today, a walk through those same fields yields not a single quail peep.

18 Photos

Click map markers to reveal further information