Gambel's quails live in the dry regions of the western U.S. and in northern Mexico. They are the most hunted game bird in Arizona, and in parts of California, Nevada, and New Mexico. They are hardy birds, able to survive a harsh terrain. To build a nest they simply scratch out a depression in the dry soil beneath a bush or cactus, and line it with a few sticks, dead leaves, twigs, or grass. They lay 10 to 12 eggs that they incubate for 21 to 24 days. The male and female both take care of the chicks for the first ten days of their life.
Status in the Wild
Gambel's quails are attractive, plump birds with richly colored plumage in shades of chestnut, gray, cream and black. Their distinguishing feature is a teardrop-shaped plume of black feathers on their heads. Gambel's quails have broad, rounded wings and long legs. They are sexually dimorphic (2 distinct gender forms); males have a black face with white bars surrounding the black area and chestnut coloring on top of the head. Females have an exclusively gray-colored head, with the exception of the plume. Males also have a black patch of feathers on the belly that females lack. Because of similarity in coloration, Gambel's quails are often mistaken with California quails; however, Gambel's quails lack the scaling on the breast and underside.
Wild populations of Gambel's quail are healthy, but habitat destruction and hunting may affect populations in the future. Drought greatly affects their reproductive success. They produce fewer, if any, offspring in the absence of adequate rainfall.
Listed as of "least concern" on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).