|Photo Source: Wikipedia.org|
In the arid, sun-baked deserts of the Southwest, Gambel's quail make their home. Named after the pioneering naturalist William Gambel, this small bird of the New World quail family thrives in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Texas, and Sonora, as well as in Chihuahua along the New Mexico border and the Colorado River region of Baja California.
These birds can be easily distinguished by their distinctive top knots and the scaly plumage on their undersides. Males have striking copper feathers on their heads, black faces, and white stripes above their eyes, while both genders boast a bluish-gray plumage. Standing at an average length of 28 cm (11 in) with a wingspan of 36-41 cm (14-16 in), Gambel's quail have relatively short, rounded wings and long, featherless legs. Their diet primarily consists of plant matter and seeds.
Though sometimes confused with the similar-looking California quail, Gambel's quail can be differentiated by range or by examining their plumage. The California quail has a more scaly appearance and lacks the black patch on the lower breast found on the male Gambel's quail. These two species are closely related, having diverged from each other during the Late Pliocene or Early Pleistocene, around 1-2 million years ago.