Arizona Desert Wildlife – Gambel’s Quail


Last spring, a pair a Gambel’s quail (Callipepla gambelii) moved into my backyard and set-up housekeeping in a flower pot.  The male placed small pebbles in a pile and the hen covered them with a few feathers.  Two days later, these eggs appeared.  I managed to sneak a photo of them while she left to forage for food.  For 22 days, the hen faithfully sat on her eggs while the male patrolled along the back fence.  Gambel’s quail form strong pair bonds and raise the chicks together.  

On the 23rd day, I heard peeping from the flower pot.  A day later, the hen abandoned the nest with 7 little chicks in tow.  One by one, the chicks jumped off the pot and landed with a thud on the patio.  Thankfully, none were injured.  The male flew down from the fence and escorted his little family out through the gate.  The chicks are difficult to photograph because of their small size and speed.  In most of my photo’s, the chicks are a blur of feathers.  This was the only decent photo I managed to obtain.     


Reference:  Thomson, M 2001. “Callipepla gambelii” (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 14, 2010.   

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.