The California State Bird

CA QuailThe California quail, also known as the valley quail, topknot quail, and California partridge, is a widely distributed and prized game bird known for its hardiness and adaptability. This beautiful bird is plump, gray-colored, and smaller than a pigeon.  A short black plume curves downward from the top of its head; beneath its short beak is a black bib outlined with a white stripe. According to renowned wildlife artist John James Audubon, the species was discovered circa 1786 in the course of an extensive scientific expedition led by Frenchman La Perouse after he sailed from Alaska to the Spanish port of Monterey, California.  Flocks number from a few to 60 or more in the fall and winter, breaking into pairs in the spring. California quail roost in trees or shrubs, but nests in hollows scratched in the ground concealed by foliage.  Females lay from 6 to 28 creamy white eggs which are thickly spotted with golden brown.  The bird has been clocked at ground speeds in excess of 12 miles per hour (roadrunners can do 25 mph), and in-flight speeds of 58 miles per hour.  It became the official California state bird in 1931.