This is the time of year for the local birds. The Robins are pecking holes looking for new crops of insects. The Mourning Doves are collecting twigs for their nests. The localized California Quail are busy, too, This photo of an ever watchful male was taken yesterday just off Plumb in a backyard between Arlington and Plumus.
The California Quail (Callipepla californica) -- The California Quail's range extends into northwest Nevada. Nowadays, the bird is a common sight along the entire length of the Truckee, in the river's riparian flood lands. Since they build their nests on the ground, the California Quail prefers brush land areas, whether grassland, woodland, or Big Sagebrush desert. This bird will even set up residence in city and suburban backyards -- if there's cover. They are often seen walking fences and running in their small coveys across city and suburban streets.
This beautiful bird eats seeds, small buds, berries and insects. In the city, they seem to prefer bare dirt to grass lawns. Since the new born chicks are unable to escape predators through flight for their first month, both parents are very protective of the chicks.
Other quail in Nevada:
The Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus) -- The Mountain Quail's original range was huge, with year round populations extending north to south from Canada to Baja California, east to west in the mountain ranges of Idaho, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington. During the last half of the 20th century, the Mountain Quail declined dramatically and continues to do so, due mainly to loss of habitat in combination with extensive hunting. According to the Audubon Watch List, hunting this beautiful bird is now banned in Idaho and eastern Oregon. The Nevada Department of Wildlife is attempting to reintroduce Mountain Quail to what remains of their original habitat. The Mountain Quail is larger than the California Quail and lives in higher elevations (as high as 10,000 feet). They do migrate downward when the temperatures drop in the autumn, traveling in coveys of up to 20 birds. As their habitat continues to dwindle due to housing and commercial developments in the mountain regions of the west, there have been attempts to protect the species by officially adding it to the Endangered Species List. So far they remain unlisted, although their extermination is all but complete in Idaho. In Nevada, with a permit, hunters can still kill the Mountain Quail, but with a daily bag limit of two.
Gambel's Quail (Lophortyx gambellii) -- The Gambel's Quail is a true desert quail, preferring the warmer climates of the southwestern deserts. In California and Nevada, this bird can be found in the Mojave Desert as far north as Beatty and throughout Death Valley National Park.
Scaled Quail (Callipepla Squamata) -- The Scaled Quail, also called the Blue Quail was introduced into Nevada as a game bird and remains a favored bird for shooting even though populations are declining range wide. This quail is also a popular aviary bird.