Monday, November 21, 2016

California Quail at Pinnacles National Park

The California drought, five years and counting, has had a devastating effect on the state, but some areas in Northern California were a bit closer to normal precipitation this past year. One sign of improvement would be a rebound in bird populations. After five years of limited plant growth, a wet year would mean more food and shelter.

I have no idea if that is actually the explanation, but during our field studies journey through Pinnacles National Park this last weekend, I saw hundreds of California Quail (Callipepla californica), instead of the usual dozens. I saw most of them as we drove along the roads, but when I walked the lower part of Bear Gulch, this female stuck around just long enough for a picture.

The California Quail is the state bird of California, but its range extends from the southern tip of Baja California north to the Canadian border. They are mainly ground-dwellers, moving about in large coveys. By preference, they melt into the vegetation when an intruder comes near, but will fly for cover if startled.

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