Californian Quail
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. Californian quail
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    photo of Californian quail
  • Scientific Name:  Lophortyx californicus                       (Click on photo to enlarge - hen on right)
  • Common Name/s:  CALIFORNIAN QUAIL.
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin:  8.  One in captivity in Australia (L. c. californicus)
  • Origin / Distribution:  West coast of the United States of America (Oregon to California).
  • Habitat In Wild:  Occupy a diverse habitat - needs a suitable ground cover.  Usually found in rangelands and farmlands.
  • Status In Wild:  ?
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity:  Secure, but becoming more unpopular due to the increasing trend of the hens refusing to incubate their own eggs.
  • Age To Sexual Maturity:  about 12 months.???
  • Adult plumage: attained at about 2 months.  Can be sexed at about 2 months of age.
  • Best breeding years (estimate):  ?
  • Lifespan (estimate):  approx. ? years 
  • Sexing:  Monomorphic / Dimorphic
  • Colour mutations:  None
  • Availability:  Bird dealers.
  • Temperament:  Large bird and generally one pair per planted aviary.  They are usually suitable with finches and small parrots but as they may perch above ground at night in a planted aviary, this may interfere with nesting finches.  Wing flight clipping will help prevent this happening but will not eliminate the problem.  May breed year round in a suitable aviary.  Many are reared in incubators and now many hens lay like chooks without the instinct to incubate their eggs.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour (Approx.) $100
  • Description Of Adults:  Largest of all the quail held in Australian aviculture.  Both sexes have a crest.
  1. Length: Approx.  220 - 240 mm (or approx. 9 - 10 inches)
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ):  Refer photo top right above.  (Click on above photo to enlarge)
  3. Weight: Up to approx.  200 gms (or approx. 7 ozs)
Aviary Notes:

Level Of Knowledge Required: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.

Government Regulations & By-Laws:  Refer to " Government Laws " web page.

Housing Requirements:  Refer to " Quail " web page for general details on the housing of Quail or read on for specific details for this bird.

Compatible with most finches, small parrots, doves and pigeons. Best breeding results are with one pair per aviary.  Planted aviary is preferred.  Californian and Bob White quail should not be housed with other types of birds that spend a lot of time on the floor.  Problems can occur with finches etc. that spend a lot of time at floor level or use the floor space as their courtship, or mating site. 

Australian quail generally do not use a perch either during the day or to roost on during the night.  Two of the introduced quail, the Californian and the Bobwhite will use a perch at night to roost.  This can cause problems during finch nesting season if the quail lands on a finch nest. Wing flight clipping will help prevent this happening but will not eliminate the problem

Diet / Feeding:   Refer to " Quail " web page for general details on the feeding of Quail or read on for specific details for this bird.

Natural diet includes seeds and berries, plant material such as leaves, and insects.

Good quality finch or small parrot mix  and vegetable green foods as per "Quail" web page.  Californian quail are not reliant on live foods for good breeding results but will benefit if supplied during breeding season.  May eat some of the commercial poultry pellets.  The commercial farmers of these birds have developed and produce a nutritionally balanced pellet food suitable for aviary use.


  • Nesting months:  May breed year round if conditions are suitable.
  • Nest location:  On the floor usually at the back of the aviary in a secluded spot.
  • Nest material:  Dry grasses, leaves and plant material.
  • Who incubates the egg/s: Hen / cock / both share.

Breeding:  Egg Colour Creamy white.  Clutch/s per year = multiple.  Eggs per nest 10 - 12.  Incubation approx 18 days.  Independent approx. another ? weeks.  Both parent birds feed and care for the young.

Many hens will lay lots of eggs but show no interest in incubating their eggs.  These eggs can be artificially incubated and hand raised.

As many birds have lost the natural instinct to incubate and raise their own young it can be extremely frustrating to many people to have to either abandon the eggs or have to go to the time consuming trouble of artificial incubation and hand raising of this species.  "Non clucky" strains can lay up to 100 or more eggs per year.  The quail that do their own nest building, egg incubation and raise their chicks should be identified and placed back into the aviary.  Commercial traits for commercial production.  The natural clucky traits for our aviaries, especially for the beginner stage aviculturalist.

Since the late 1990's, few if any people can claim success with their Californian quail naturally incubating and raising a single clutch of eggs.

Artificial incubation and hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site.  It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here.

Health Issues:  Refer to "Avian Health Issues" web page for information and references.

  • Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new bird/s or sick bird/s are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site.  Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page option.
  • Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace.  Keep updating your knowledge and skills.

General References:  Refer to references listed on "Book References" web page.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture
  • A/A Vol 25 No. 1 Jan 1971 Page 11-12.
  • A/A Vol 20 No 5 May 1966 Page 75.
  • A/A Vol  7 No 12 Dec 1953 Page 146.
  • Australian Birdkeeper

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