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Gambel's quail are ground dwellers, but have an advantage over other inhabitants of the desert floor, for they can fly to a watering hole or to shade if they need to. Their whole body, including the legs, short wings, and short stout beak, is well adapted to pecking and scratching for seeds and insects. Their eyes, located on the sides of the head, give a wide range of view for possible predators. They nest in hollows in the ground beneath a cactus, bush, or tuft of grass. The male Gambel's quail have a black, curved plume on the top of their head, a rufous crown and a black patch on their belly. The females, although they also have plumes, are duller in coloration.
Our Animal's Story
We have three Gambel's quail in our open desert garden. They can fly, but prefer to stay inside their exhibit. Listen for their interesting calls and the interactions between the males and females. The males have a rusty-red cap on their head and a black face and neck, while the females are more plain in coloration. Both have feather plumes on their heads.