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Blue Scale Quail

Callipepla squamata
Conservation Status: 
Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
Range: 
Located in Southwestern US to Central Mexico
Habitat: 
Tends to live in arid desert areas where mesquite and cholla cactus grow.

Blue scale quails are very social and live in large groups (30 is typical but more is common) from September to April, after which they will split into pairs for breeding season. At night they roost in groups on the ground in a circle with their heads facing outward. They have many different vocalizations, especially during breeding season.

The courtship ritual consists of a male plumage display and call, and even chasing the female. The nest is typically a grass-lined hollow containing 9 to 16 speckled eggs hidden on the ground in dense vegetation. Eggs are incubated by the female for 21 to 23 days. It is common for the hens to lay 50 to 60 eggs per year. Females have a brood patch (featherless patch on their belly) to help incubate the eggs at an ideal temperature. Males tend to remain with the female during this period to distract potential predators and have even been noted to hatch the eggs when a female has been killed.

Both sexes look similar but the difference is in their chin feathers. Males will have plain light brown feathers and females will have faint brown pin-stripe in the chin area. Males have a larger head and the females’ crest is sparser.

Blue scale quails eat insects such as grasshoppers, cicadas, and scarab beetles, and mesquite seeds and broom snakeweed seeds in the winter.

Blue scale quails eat insects such as grasshoppers, cicadas, and scarab beetles, and mesquite seeds and broom snakeweed seeds in the winter.