California Quail Maturation

This is a pictorial story of a few families (broods) of quail
who gathered into a covey (or bevy)
in my garden, and how they grew.

I think these guys were under a week old.
They're about the size of a ping pong ball (from head to toe).

Another group from the same brood of cute quail chicks
(those are sunflower seed shells they're sitting on)

He's got his little stubby wings out - not flying yet !

Here's dad with chick trying to get under him, out of the hot sun.

Soon they're walking around the garden discussing politics

Showing off their fuzzy butts


Dragging his wings 'cause he hasn't had his morning coffee yet

Scruffy wings!  Give that poor chick some hair gel!

1422 Soon they're losing the fuzzy downy feathers on their wings as the larger feathers grow in.

Note that the new feathers' stripes are left to right as opposed to the downy feathers' stripes which are from head to toe.

Up close you can see the texture of the different feathers

Out for a stroll in the desert
(Really it's a sandy hill top near Santa Cruz, California)

Next to mom and dad you can see that they haven't grown much in size.

They have really long necks which you hardly ever see

unless they're stretching up to get a better look.

The polka-dot lipstick fashion is a little bizarre-there's no accounting for taste!

The wings seem to grow before the body catches up


Before they get their adult coloring it's easy to see their ear holes.

2 broods

Here are chicks from two different broods, having hatched about a month apart. 

During the weeks between the ages of these two chicks their coloring doesn't change much.  They still have downy feathers on their heads while they're getting regular feathers on their bodies, but you can see how their bodies grow in size during this period.

She's a bit cold so she's puffed up her feathers for insulation

These guys are starting to get their topknots and also they are getting longer tail feathers.


There are usually at least two dads at a time watching over the chicks.

Sometimes mom watches too.  Here they're scooping up water to drink.

Before and After
If you look down the middle of their backs, you can see
the down feathers (left) turn to grey feathers (right). 
Also their tails grow longer.
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Tails growing longer


Though she's just a little larger,

the grey stripe down her back is complete,

the side feathers are darker brown,

her downy feathers are gone, even from her head,

and the topknot is getting there...

The females pretty much get their adult coloring well before they grow to the
size of an adult. These 2 girls are only about 2/3 of their adult size.


The males are quite a different story.  Their faces grow in spurts.
Click here to see the male quail mature

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