Family New World Quails (Odontophoridae)

Least Concern

Gambel's Quail (Callipepla gambelii)


French: Colin de Gambel German: Helmwachtel Spanish: Colín de Gambel
Other common names: Fulvous-breasted Quail (fulvipectus), Tiburon Island Quail (pembertoni)

Lophortyx Gambelii


, 1843,

west of California = south Nevada, USA


Often placed in Lophortyx. Sometimes considered conspecific with C. californica, the two hybridizing in areas of range overlap#R#R. Race pembertoni considered doubtfully distinguishable from and sometimes synonymized with nominate, but recent study favours recognition#R. Races ignoscens and stephensi often regarded as undiagnosable, but probably merit recognition#R. Proposed race sana (W Colorado, in WC USA) included in nominate, and friedmanni (coastal and NW Sinaloa, in NW Mexico) in fulvipectus. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. g. gambelii (Gambel, 1843) – W USA (from S Nevada, S Utah and W Colorado) S to NW Mexico (NE Baja California and N Sonora).
  • C. g. ignoscens (Friedmann, 1943) – S New Mexico and extreme W Texas, in SC USA.
  • C. g. pembertoni (van Rossem, 1932) – Tiburon I, in Gulf of California, NW Mexico.
  • C. g. fulvipectus Nelson, 1899 – NC Sonora S to NW Sinaloa, in NW Mexico; possibly also SE Arizona and SW New Mexico, in SW USA.
  • C. g. stephensi (A. R. Phillips, 1959) – S Sonora, NW Mexico.
  • Introduced (gambelii) to NC Idaho, in NW USA, and to Hawaiian Is, as well as San Clemente I, off S California.

    Descriptive notes

    24–28 cm; male 157–208 g, female 160–193·5 g. Long black teardrop-shaped crest. Distinctive black-and-white pattern on face and throat separates from... read more


    In total, ten different calls described from captive birds, of which seven are given by both sexes... read more


    Occurs in three types of desert: low warm desert valleys dominated by mesquite (Prospsis,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Takes wide variety of food types (91 species of plants in S Nevada): mainly flowers and seeds, especially of legumes; generally few insects... read more


    Season mainly late Apr–Aug, though eggs recorded as early as Mar. Coveys generally start to disband by Mar. Male mass, rather than... read more


    Sedentary, but disperses in late winter and early spring; maximum movement recorded was < 16 km... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: Safe. Total population numbers over 1,000,000 birds. Populations in USA stable since 1960s, although there is some... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carroll, J.P., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2019). Gambel's Quail (Callipepla gambelii). 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 14 November 2019).