Summer Quail Report: California

6436aa30-9fd9-48c7-9941-ef504e22231b “In the 2016-2017 hunting season, an estimated 51,281 hunters harvested 320,913 quail,” says Katherine Miller, Upland Game Bird Biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Of those, 245,111 were California quail, the most popular quail species for hunters in California.”

“Winter rainfall benefitted quail populations by producing vegetation for nests and improving insect abundance, which is critical for young birds,” says Miller. “Harsh snows may have affected those mountain quail that did not move down in elevation. However, overall the winter was beneficial for quail populations.”

“The southeastern portion of California has experienced a dry spring and early summer, with temperatures slightly above the 30-year norm.  Alternatively, it has been wetter to the north in the Great Valley, Sierra Nevada, and Cascades of California.  The Sierra Nevada experienced slightly colder temperatures, but throughout most of the state temperatures have been near the 30-year norm.”

Miller offer some good insights into California’s top quail areas: “In the last 10 years, mountain quail populations have been best in the Sierra Nevada, from Plumas County south to Fresno County, in Mendocino, and in the higher elevations of southern coastal California -- Santa Barbara, Ventura and Kern counties.”

“California quail range throughout the state, but hunters may have better opportunities in southern coastal California (San Luis Obispo, Kern, and King counties) and in the north-central portion of the state (Tehama County),” she says.

“Gambel’s quail populations have been higher along the Colorado River in San Bernardino and Imperial counties,” adds Miller.

Tom Carpenter is Digital Content Manager at Quail Forever.

Photocredit: Steven Earley.