Binomial name: Callipepla californica
Common name: California Quail
The California quail averages around 25 centimetres in height and weighs around 180 grams. Their key recognizable feature is the crest plume that sits on top of their head curving forward. The male quail has a bluish grey breast and a black throat outlined in white. The female is duller in colour and her plume is often shorter. The call of the quail is very loud and produced with three quick syllables; it is often joked that they are shouting to their mates, “Where are you?!”
The quail was introduced to both the North and South Island of New Zealand in the 1860’s. The main reason for their introduction was for the purpose of hunting. The California quail is a very desirable game bird and is annually harvested in New Zealand. In the late 1940’s there were concerns of a declining quail population. Because of their desirability they have been looked after and today are widespread throughout New Zealand; with even a few on the Chatham Islands. The California quail are rarely found on the west coast and in the deep south of the South Island.
They are a highly sociable bird that often gathers in small flocks known as "coveys". One of their daily communal activities is a dust bath. A group of quail will select an area where the ground has been newly turned or is soft, and using their underbellies, will burrow downward into the soil some one to two inches.They then wriggle about in the indentations they have created, flapping their wings and ruffling their feathers, causing dust to rise in the air. They seem to prefer sunny places in which to create these dust baths, These birds forage on the ground, often scratching at the soil. Their diet consists mainly of seeds and leaves, but they also eat some berries and insects.
If startled, these birds explode into short rapid flight, called "flushing". Given a choice, they will normally make their escape on foot.
They nest in a shallow nest lined with vegetation located on the ground under a shrub or other cover. The female usually lays approximately twelve eggs. Once they are hatched, the young about size and shape of bumble bees associate with both adults. Often, families group together, into multifamily "communal broods" which include at least two females, multiple males and many offspring. Males associated with families are not always the genetic fathers. In good years, females will lay more than one clutch, leaving the hatched young with the associated male and laying a new clutch, often with a different associated male.
Thanks to Canterbury Nature http://www.canterburynature.org/ and www.wikipedia.org
A female photographed in the Kauaeranga valley, Coromadel
Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/