Nuzzled among the Oakley wetlands, Big Break Regional Shoreline is a birding paradise. The park welcomes tired travelers like the bald eagle and the white pelican to rest and feed, while it also provides vital habitat to permanent residents like our state bird, the California quail.
This plump little quail is easily recognized thanks to a prominent teardropshaped head plume and is often seen scurrying around the parking lot shrubs – as if challenging visitors to a game of hide and seek.
It is especially fun to spot this bird during the summer months, as it is often trailed by a handful of puffballs with legs, its chicks. If you see multiple mature males and females in such a group, you may be looking at a rout – a mix of related or unrelated quail that raise their young together. The species seem to understand that it does indeed take a village...
Although the California quail is hearty and adaptable, its population size has been declining due to habitat loss. We can help it thrive in our parks and backyards by giving it plenty of personal space and by landscaping with low, native shrubbery that let this shy little neighbor feel comfortable and secure.