Catalina Quail: Endemic & Entertaining

The Catalina California Quail (Callipepla californica catalinensis) are endemic to the Channel Islands, meaning they are only found here! With their round bodies and curled plume protruding from their heads, they are both adorable and intriguing. They can often be found in a small flock, called a covey, to feed or take a dust bath in loose soil. On Catalina Island, quail are usually found in the hillside or feeding on the side of a trail in camp. They primarily eat seeds and leaves, including Toyon berries!


Catalina California Quail are currently considered a Bird Species of Special Concern (year round), priority 3. The timing and amount of annual rain and the types and abundance of plants are the variables that affect quail success the most. The biggest threats to quail habitat have been the removal of invasive herbivores and wild boars, the increase of feral cat populations and long-term fire suppression methods. These factors have increased the growth of dense scrubs and woodland, which is not suitable for quail to live in or eat. Multiple solutions have been proposed to help generate more suitable habitat for the quail on Catalina Island.

One of our favorite things about the Catalina California Quail is how it moves. Quail prefer to run instead of flying, their head plumes bobbing back and forth as they move. There is nothing better than seeing a covey of 15 quail running at top speed with their heads bobbing! Whenever the pitter-patter of small feet is heard, we turn to look for quail running down the road. The sight always makes us let out an “aww” and a laugh at the same time. So much so that we decided to try and imitate our favorite feathered friends! Hope you enjoyed the video!