Also Goes By: Arizona Quail, Desert Quail
The Gambel’s Quail is a desert dwelling species that can be found among the mesquite, saltbush, cat’s-claw, creosote and prickly pear. Water is an important part of their habitat, and these birds are likely found within its vicinity scratching along the valley bottoms of river transported soils and decomposed granite. Years with good rainfall will increase the population of this bird and make for an excellent hunting season.
Photo Courtesy of Magnus Manske.
A plump and short-necked bird, the Gambel’s Quail will be 11 inches in length and be camouflaged in intricately patterned chestnut, gray and cream colored feathers. Both sexes will have the comma shaped topknot adorning their heads, but the females will not have the strong head pattern of the males and will be grayer in color.
Coveys will be composed of multiple family groups between 20 to 40 birds. Where a central water source is located it may be possible to find hundreds of these birds nearby. The Gambel’s Quail centers its activities around ground cover, becoming most active during the early morning and late afternoon hours. However, their willingness to traverse large, exposed areas in an arc-like pattern lends an advantage to the hunter in search of their tracks.
Carrying extra water is important in the desert as is wearing boots that will endure the tough terrain and spiny vegetation. As a result, it is always a good idea to bring along pliers for removing cactus spine. Guns that have modified or full choke are ideal for this bird.