Gambel’s Quail

The Gambel’s quail is a member of the New World quail family, and is actually a small ground-living bird. It’s main habitats are the desert regions of Sonora, Utah, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, California, Arizona and Colorado.

And it is also available in New Mexico-border Chihuahua and the Colorado River region of Baja California. The breed is named in honor of William Gambel, who was a nineteenth century naturalist and explorer of the Southwestern United States.

The Gambel’s quail is related to the California quail. But it is not as widely introduced as the California quail. It was however released on San Clemente Island in 1912 by Charles T. Howland et al., where it is currently still established.

Today, the Gambel’s quails are numerous. Total populations appear to have been fairly stable between 1966 and 2014 (possibly with a small decline, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey). Read some more information about this quail breed below.

Gambel’s Quail Characteristics

Like most other quails, the Gambel’s quails are plump, volleyball-sized birds. They have small bill, short necks and square shaped tail.

Their wings are short but broad, and both males and females have comma-shaped topknot of feathers atop their small head. The topknot of feathers are fuller in the males than the females.

The Gambel’s quail has a bluish-gray plumage on much of their bodies. The males have copper feathers on the top of their heads, black faces, and white stripes above their eyes.

The Gambel’s quail can be generally confused with the California quail, mainly because of it’s similar plumage. These birds can generally be distinguished by range.

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But when this does not suffice, the California quails have a more scaly appearance and the back patch on the lower breast of the male Gambel’s quail is absent in the California quail.

Average length of the Gambel’s quail is around 28 cm, with a wingspan of 36 to 41 cm. Average live body weight of these birds is between 160 and 200 grams. Photo and info from Wikipedia.


The Gambel’s quail is generally used and raised as a pet, or as hobby.

Special Notes

The Gambel’s quails are gregarious birds of the desert Southwest, where coveys gather along brushy washes and cactus-studded arroyos to feed. They generally eat plants mostly.

They generally eat seeds of shrubs, grasses, trees, cactus and forbs. And they also pick mesquite seeds from cattle and coyote droppings.

The Gambel’s quail mainly move about by walking, and it can move surprisingly fast through brush and undergrowth. It is a non-migratory species and is rarely seen in flight.

Flight of these birds is generally short and explosive, with many rapid wingbeats. In the late summer, fall, and winter, the adults and immature young congregate into coveys of many birds.

In the spring, Gambel’s quail pair off for mating and become very aggressive toward other pairs. The females generally lay 10-12 eggs, and the incubation period lasts from 21 to 23 days.

The chicks are precocial, leaving the nest with their parents within hours of hatching. However, review full breed profile of the Gambel’s quail in the chart below.

Breed NameGambel’s
Other NamesNone
Breed PurposePets, hobby
Special NotesVery strong and hardy birds, active, generally a ground-living bird, they spend most of their time on the ground, they generally eat plants and seeds, non-migratory species, they rarely seen in flight, they flight with many rapid wingbeats, the females lay between 10 and 12 eggs, their incubation period lasts for 21 to 23 days
SpeciesNew World Quail
WeightBetween 160 and 200 grams
Climate ToleranceAlmost all climates
Egg ColorDull white to buff with irregular cinnamon-brown splotches
Egg Size/Weight8 to 13 grams
Egg Productivity10-12 eggs clutch size
Body ColorBluish-gray
Country/Place of OriginUnited States

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