What Is The California State Bird?

The California quail is a social bird.
The California quail is a social bird.

California is located in the Western United States. It is the most populous state with 39.5 million people and the third largest state by area at 163,696 sq mi (423,970 km2). Bordering the Pacific Ocean, the state has 3,427 mi (5,515 km) of coastline. The California Central Valley lies at the center of the state, surrounded by the Cascade Range to the north, the Sierra Nevada mountain range to the east, the Tehachapi Mountains to the south, and the Pacific Coast Ranges to the west. California has officially designated several state symbols. The state bird is the California quail. 

California State Bird

The California quail, also known as the California valley quail or simply the valley quail, is California’s official state bird. Designated as the official state bird in 1931, the valley quail is native to North America and is considered to be highly adaptable to its climatic conditions. 

California Quail

It is a small bird with a black plume on its head and a snowy stripe on the lower beak. The California quail is plump and smaller in size than a pigeon. Males have a light brown belly, grey-blue chest, brown back, black face, and a dark brown cap, while females and young valley quails are grey-brown with light-colored bellies. The distinctive feature of the California quail is its six-feathered crest. The California quail is most closely related to the Gambel quail, which has a longer crest, a scalier appearance, and a brighter head.


The California quail is a social bird that lives in a covey of up to 200 members during the fall and winter, and then breaks up into pairs during the spring and summer. Coveys are often found in areas where the ground is soft or has recently been turned. The bird uses its underbelly to burrow one or two inches to have dust baths, flapping its wings and ruffling its feathers. California quails rarely leave their habitat, even during harsh weather conditions. Large populations coexist at the edge of cities and towns, but human activity remains the greatest threat to their existence. The quails forage on the ground by scratching at the soil, but many can also be seen feeding along the roadsides of California. They primarily feed on leaves and seeds, but will also eat insects and berries if necessary. 


The California quail inhabits the oak woodlands, sagebrush, chaparral, and forests of California. They are tolerant of people and can be found in suburban gardens, agricultural areas, and city parks. They are native to the United States but have been introduced into the western parts of Mexico and Canada, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.


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