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Wildlife Spotlight: California Quail

​Wandering through the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, you’ve most likely come across a wide variety of native animals. Scurrying through the chaparral, oak woodland and coastal sage scrub habitats on the Landmarks, the California quail is known for its hardiness and adaptability to its surroundings.
Usually keeping to themselves and hiding in nearby brush, California quail are not always easy to spot. Visitors of the Landmarks can often hear these birds before they see them. If you keep a good lookout and travel quietly, you might get a glimpse of a quail family crossing a trail. 
​The California quail became the official state bird in 1931 and has similar characteristics to a chicken, but with some unique features. Adult males often have a pale forehead and black throat with white stripes and a variety of colors on their body including blue-gray, brown, and white scaling feathers. Adult female and juvenile quails are often more muted due to a combination of brown and gray shading with white scaling feathers. Both adult male and female quails have a black plume on top of their head that looks like one single feather but is actually made up of six overlapping feathers.
Most active around sunrise and sunset, the California quail has a diet that primarily consists of grain and seeds. They have also been known to eat a variety of insects and plants. This species has adapted to living in arid environments and can get by without water, acquiring moisture from insects and succulents.
Quail can often be seen walking along the trails of the Landmarks with images captured through IRC’s wildlife camera trap system. With the California quail relying heavily on native plant communities, Irvine Ranch Conservancy continuously monitors local wildlife to ensure these species can thrive across the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. For more information about wildlife on the Landmarks, visit