Leonard has a “California native plant” garden in our yard near Lookout CA (Modoc County). The garden is a natural area with native wildflowers interspersed among the native grasses, Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides see my 09-13-13 post) being one of the more prominent grasses. Jackrabbits, cottontails and birds love the shelter and feed provided by the plants.
Leonard was recently surprised to discover an abandoned California quail (Callipepla californica) nest under a clump of Indian ricegrass in the garden. The nest was well hidden because Leonard never noticed it when weeding non-native invaders.
California quail nests are shallow depressions lined with stems and grasses, hidden for protection amid vegetation or at the base of shrubs and trees. There are 12 to 16 white to creamy eggs with brown markings in each clutch. Occasionally a nest may contain up to 30 eggs as a result of other females laying eggs in nests other than their own.
The California quail nest in our native garden had the broken remains of 10 eggs and one unhatched egg.
After an incubation period of 22 or 23 days, the chicks emerge covered in down. They can walk, peck on the ground and follow their parents immediately after hatching. Often several broods will mix after hatching and all the parents care for the young together. Large groups of California quail chicks and their parents are regular visitors to our livestock water.
We are delighted that Leonard’s native plant garden attracts wildlife and that it provided a California quail nursery.