Family New World Quails (Odontophoridae)

Least Concern

California Quail (Callipepla californica)


French: Colin de Californie German: Schopfwachtel Spanish: Colín de California
Other common names: Warner Valley Quail (orecta), Santa Catalina Quail (catalinensis), San Lucas Quail (achrustera)

Tetrao californicus


, 1798,

Monterey, California, USA


Often placed in Lophortyx. Sometimes considered conspecific with C. gambelii, the two hybridizing in areas of range overlap#R#R. Races plumbea and orecta sometimes merged in nominate, and decolorata perhaps undiagnosable#R. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. californica (Shaw, 1798) – NW USA (from N Oregon and W Nevada) S to extreme NW Mexico (Los Coronados Is, off NW Baja California); also (probably introduced) from SW Canada (S British Columbia) SE to WC USA (Colorado).
  • C. c. orecta (Oberholser, 1932) – SE Oregon and extreme NE California, in W USA.
  • C. c. brunnescens (Ridgway, 1884) – coastal S Oregon to SC California, in W USA; also (probably introduced) Vancouver I, in SW Canada.
  • C. c. catalinensis (Grinnell, 1906) – Santa Catalina I, off SW California (SW USA); also (probably introduced) nearby Channel Is (Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz).
  • C. c. canfieldae (van Rossem, 1939) – EC California (Owens Valley), in W USA.
  • C. c. plumbea (Grinnell, 1926) – S California S to extreme NW Mexico (N Baja California).
  • C. c. decolorata (van Rossem, 1946) – C & S Baja California, in NW Mexico.
  • C. c. achrustera (J. L. Peters, 1923) – extreme S Baja California, in W Mexico.
  • Introduced to Chile, W Argentina, Hawaiian Is, New Zealand (brunnescens), King I (Australia) and Corsica.

    Descriptive notes

    23–27 cm; male 140–262 g, female 147–237 g. Long black teardrop-shaped crest (sympatric Oreortyx pictus has very long, straight crest, white-... read more


    Recalls voice of C. gambelii. Three main types of vocalization (all of them very similar... read more


    Very diverse habitats, depending on area, and including brushland, chaparral, desert, evergreen and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly seeds and bulbs of Lupinus, Lotus (Fabaceae), Erodium (Geraniaceae), Trifolium, Medicago... read more


    Early Apr (in S) or May–Jun (in N) to Jul–Aug; pairs start to form as early as late Feb, with males displaying to females while... read more


    Sedentary; maximum movements recorded less than 27 km. Dispersal rates increase in response to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: Safe. Important gamebird in W USA, with over 2,000,000 harvested per year, but pesent levels of controlled, non-... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carroll, J.P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). California Quail (Callipepla californica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 February 2020).