For those of you who live in the Greater Pinnacle Peak area of Scottsdale, Arizona, seeing a Gambel’s Quail is not a particularly unusual sighting. If you see one, you’re also likely to see another one close by. They seem to travel around the desert in male/female pairs. If you’re really fortunate, you may sometimes see the male and female escorting their brood of tiny young chicks.
These quail have a breeding season that starts in April and lasts through much of July. They typically lay up to 12 eggs in a shallow nest on or near the ground which makes the eggs easy prey for snakes, lizards and other predators. As you’ll see in the photographs, their coloration, fortunately, camouflages them well against the lights and shadows of the desert undergrowth. Once hatched, the chicks “hit the road running” by immediately leaving the nest to start foraging for food.
I was fortunate enough recently to capture some family photographs of these elusive little chicks along with a few photographs of them with their parents. The chicks are fast and once they’re in the underbrush you’re likely unable to see them again. The bodies of these chicks are about the size of a golf ball, and they presented a challenge just trying to track them with my camera. Photographing quail chicks requires patience (and a little luck), but the rewards of snapping a photograph is well worth the wait. For more information on Gambel’s Quail, here’s a link to a wonderful description of these colorful desert birds: https://www.aboutanimals.com/bird/gambels-quail/.
Click on the first thumbnail image below to see the photographs in a larger size.