Gambel’s Quail — Greeting The Sunrise?

You may enlarge any image in this blog by  clicking on it.

We were driving a dirt farm road recently, just at sunrise (before 6:00 a.m.) when we saw a male Gambel’s Quail perching on a small dead tree adjacent to the road.  As we observed him, he lifted his head and called, repeatedly.  He almost seemed to be greeting the morning sun.

More likely, he was warning his mate about a possible threat.  This time of year the males serve as guards for their families as mother quail and the offspring — sometimes a dozen or more youngsters — forage on the ground.  The males sit on exposed perches and scan the area, looking for predators such as coyotes.  Sounding the warning causes the family to scramble for cover.

There’s something a bit unusual about this male that I see from time to time.  Typically, male Gambel’s Quail have a single plume attached to their foreheads.  This male has a double plume.  It’s a bit unusual but not exactly rare.  Nevertheless, it makes for an interesting image.

Image made with a Canon 5Div, 400mm f4 DO II lens+1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 500, f5.6 @ 1/2000.

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