This morning when I popped out of the dining room door I scared up a covey of 5 Gambel’s quail chicks and their chattering parents. I don’t usually expect to see them until well into May, so I was a bit surprised and pretty excited. Chick sightings are one of those things Arizonan’s brag about like the number of fish caught, or the size of bears encountered.
Gambel’s quail primarily move about by walking and can move surprisingly fast through brush and undergrowth. They are a non-migratory species and are rarely seen in flight. Any flight is usually short and explosive, with many rapid wingbeats, followed by a slow glide to the ground.
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 chicks are decidedly more insectivorous than adults, gradually consuming more plant matter as they mature. Gambel’s Quail are monogamous and rarely breed in colonies. The female typically lays 10–12 eggs in a simple scrape concealed in vegetation, often at the base of a rock or tree. Incubation lasts from 21–23 days, usually performed by the female and rarely by the male. The chicks are precocious, leaving the nest with their parents within hours of hatching.
Here’s a link to some great video of chicks in motion: Gambel’s Quail chicks emerge from their nest – YouTube