Little Quail

Quail are ubiquitous here in the Okanagan Valley. I often see them racing around, their cute little comma-shaped head feathers arriving ahead of them.

The male is on the left and the female on the right.

Although they can fly, they are amazingly fast runners and when chicks are nearby, the adults will suddenly burst into flight, distracting potential predators away from the little ones.

They are extremely social and live in family groups of 20 or more birds. They don’t migrate for the winter but will congregate in coveys of up to 100 birds to keep warm since at 25 cm, (10 inches) they are very small.

They are portrayed extensively on the art work of this area and there’s even a winery named after them.

Greetings from the quail of the Okanagan Valley!

20 thoughts on “Little Quail”

  1. Definitely cute with their little fascinators. I wonder what evolutionary wonder bequeathed that stand up feather to them. Happy Friday Lynette. Allan

    1. Fascinator! That’s the right word for those amazing little adornments. That is an excellent question, but since it’s the males with the bigger feathers, I guess it’s meant to attract the women!

    1. These birds live in the South Okanagan Valley where the winters are usually quite temperate (that’s where my home is). They don’t live in the subarctic where my work is – they wouldn’t survive there! In the winter they congregate in huge numbers under low lying bushes to conserve their body heat. It’s amazing how many will come out from under one little cedar bush if they are startled during the winter!

    1. Yes, rain is such a serious problem for them, but their adaptability is stellar. My understanding is that these quail walked/flew here (probably ran!) from Washington over the last 100 years or so as they are related to the quail found there and apparently are not really a native species to the Okanagan. I would say that they are now, though!

      1. When we lived there … OMG almost 50 years ago we had a flock of at least 40 wandering around our yard and by the lane. They’re tough little birds, as survival goes.

        1. Wow – almost 50 years ago! Anneli, I understand. I keep being floored by how much time has passed. Agreed – it’s amazing how many of them will congregate under a bush and how tough they are.

    1. These quail starting making their way here from Washington about a hundred or so years ago. Scientists have done DNA testing showing that their closest relatives are from there, and First Nations have no record of them being here before that. It’s very interesting as this species is actually native to California and is apparently slowly travelling north!

  2. Very cute species – not one that I’ve seen. Are they still being introduced outside of their native range? We have a massive industry in the UK of non-native gamebirds being released into the wild, which is getting increasingly controversial.

    1. These quail were introduced to Vancouver Island about 150 years ago; introducing non-native species into the wild is no longer allowed under the Environmental Protection Act for about 10 years or so.

      However, according to DNA, this species naturally migrated to the Okanagan from Washington. There’s no record of them being artificially introduced to BC’s interior or anywhere else other than Vancouver Island. Interestingly, they were introduced to Washington from California as a game bird about a hundred years ago. They have integrated well, have lots of predators and are limited in their range by geography, so as invasive species go (if they can be characterised that way), they are rather benign.

      I’m very surprised to hear that this is being still allowed in UK. Wow. So sorry to hear.

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