Scaled Quail, Callipepla squamata

The Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata) also commonly called Blue Quail or cotton top, is a species of the New World quail family. It’s a bluish gray bird located in the arid regions of the Southwestern United States to Central Mexico. This species is an early offshoot of the genus Callipepla, diverging in the Pliocene.

This bird is named for the scaly appearance of its breast and the feathers located on its back. Along with its scaly markings, the bird is easily identified by its white crest that looks much like a tuft of cotton.

The nest is usually a grass-lined hollow containing nine to sixteen speckled eggs. When it is disturbed, it shows a preference to run rather than to fly.

It is widespread and common throughout its range. It has been listed has Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

This quail prefers to inhabit dry and open valleys, plains, foothills, rocky slopes, gullies, draws, and canyons that have a mixture of bare ground, low herbaceous growth, and scattered brushy cover.

They are opportunistic eaters. Seeds are consumed all year round. They consume more grass seeds than do other quail species. Other dietary components may include leaves, fruits, and insects. Summer diets are high in green vegetation and insects, which are important sources of moisture as well.

Potential predators of this species include mammals, birds, and reptiles.

Image Caption: Scaled Quail, Callipepla squamata, perched on post. Location: Eastern New Mexico, United States. Credit: Gary Kramer/Wikipedia