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Breeding Season: Varies upon climate, often late April through August.
Breeding Age: First year.
Clutch Size: 9 to 16
Incubation Period:: 23 days
Description - Male: This species is often confused with the related Valley Quail,. Males of both species share the black top-knot plume. Male Gambel's can be distinguished by having no scaling on the lower breast, but rather having a yellowish belly with a large black spot. The top of the head is rusty brown with a white border and a black face, forehead and chin; the back and upper breast is grayish brown with rusty brown flanks that have white streaks.
Description - Female: Females also have a top-knot, but it is much smaller in size. Her overall coloration is similar to the male, but she lacks the black and white face, the black breast spot and the rust color on her is much lighter. The hen is also slightly smaller than the male.
Status in Captivity: Very common.
Natural History: In the wild, Gambel's Quail form large groups or coveys. Dr. Leland Hayes reported flocks as large as 200 during the winter in Arizona! During the spring, these large flocks break up and the males begin to draw females to their choosen territory. Fights between rival males can become quite vicious while they try to draw mates into their territories.
This species is a prolific layer in captivity and clutch sizes are quite large. In the wild, the female does the incubating which lasts about 23 days. The male often stands close-by and helps with the brooding. I've yet to have a Gambel hen go broody in captivity, but they hatch well and the tiny chicks are easy to raise. They do grow fast, flying at about three weeks of age!
Aviaries should have plenty of perching, logs and rocks for the birds to use. It is entertaining to house the different groups of Gambel's in aviaries that are some distance from each other and watch the males go to the highest points to call back and forth.
They are winter hardy and able to withstand quite cold temps as long as there is protection from the elements.
Bibliography and Further Reading
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