California’s most beloved bird is the California quail, Callipepla californica.
Seen above, a male California Valley Quail stands watchful guard, protecting his covey (family) of several chicks and his lady.
Male quail will scout ahead of their broods, scurrying along the ground and calling to them with loud pips to encourage them to follow or warn them to take cover until the coast is clear. Ever social, quail will greet each other with their distinctive call, “Chee-ca-go.”
California toyon (12/26/17) John Poimiroo
California toyon berries are a favorite food source for California quail. In December, toyon are laden with bright red berries, giving the shrubs the nicknames: Christmas berry and California holly. Toyon is what gave Hollywood its name.
Toyon is common among coastal sage scrub plants, though it also grows in the Sierra foothills. Easy to grow, Toyon does well in partial shade and is drought-tolerant.
As urban areas have expanded, the forage area for California quail has diminished. Planting toyon is a good way to provide additional native sustenance for these beautiful birds.
While expansion of urban areas has not helped California quail, it has caused Anna’s hummingbirds to proliferate.
Annas humingbird (12/23/17) Robert Kermen
As late as the early 1900s, Anna’s hummingbirds were only found in Baja and Southern California. However, the planting of exotic ornamental plants in gardens expanded the Anna’s hummingbird’s range throughout California, Cornell University reports.
This week, color spotter Robert Kermen found California quail and Anna’s hummingbirds adding Christmas color to field and garden.