American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 48

GAMBEL QUAIL (Lophortyx gambeli). A handsome species found in arid canyons and river bottoms of the southwestern states, north to Colorado and east to western Texas. In fall they gather into flocks sometimes numbering fifty or a hundred birds, spreading over the country to feed during the daytime and returning to huddle together at night. The experienced pot hunter or trapper can get quantities, but, hunted in a legal and sportsmanlike way, it requires a lot of hard fast work to make a fair bag. No quail is more nimble of foot than these; they go through the mesquite and cactus with a speed few men can follow. Yet if one sits quietly down, he may often see numbers of them at close range, for unless they are being hunted they are far from wild.

     They pair in February, at which time much vegetation is in bloom, and during March or early April sets of their eggs, numbering about a dozen, may be found in a slightly lined hollow beside a bunch of grass or under concealing bushes; they are buffywhite, with large spots of brown and lavender. The call of the male during the mating and breeding season is a shrill cha-chaa.


CALIFORNIA QUAIL (Lophortyx californica californica). Of the same size, nearly 10 in. in length, as the last and differing as shown. The curved feathers forming the handsome crest are ordinarily carried in a single packet, but they can be separated at will and thrown forward so that the first, or all of them, nearly touch the bill. These birds are locally abundant in the humid regions of the Pacific coast states. While they are shy when hunted persistently, they are very tame in parks where they are not molested.


MEARNS QUAIL (Crytonyx montezumae mearnsi), otherwise known as Massena Quail or "Fool Quail," this is the most strikingly marked bird of which I know. It is found in upper arid regions of Mexico and north to Arizona and western Texas