There are actually seven subspecies, but all have relatively the same appearance.
They have a black top knot on their heads. Males have yellowish belly feathers with a black spot, and a black and white face. Females are smaller, and have a grey face.
They eat seeds, buds on trees, and berries, and get water from what they eat. The average bird weighs about 6 oz (170 g.)
They roost in shrubs and brushes, not far off the ground, and particularly favour mesquite bushes. They usually nest on the ground, and males fight each other a lot for territory at the start of the mating season.
The female will lay 9 to 15 buff or white eggs. The eggs take about 23 days to incubate, and will hatch all at once. The chicks will fly when three weeks old.
Gambel’s Quail are very skittish, and run rather than fly when frightened. During the winters, they live together in flocks of 20 to 200.
On on average, the birds live about 1 ½ years, though they may live up to 4 years.
Gambel’s Quail are a popular game bird, particularly in Arizona.
Gambel’s Quail are named after American naturalist William Gambel (1821-1849.)