It’s Sunday, and once again it gives us a chance to see the avian photos of biologist John Avise. This week’s them is the quail.
Quail Query (with a Philomena-like question and answer)
Here in Southern California we have three quail species: the California Quail (Callipepla californica), Gambel’s Quail (Callipepla gambelii), and the Mountain Quail (Oreoryx pictus). Interestingly, all three species have intriguing topknot or tassel feathers protruding from their foreheads.
Which bring us to today’s quail query: What is the functional role of these topknots? Probably the leading hypothesis is that genes for these topknots evolved under the influence of sexual selection, when females preferred to mate with males displaying these adornments. However, I want to jokingly offer an alternative explanation: perhaps the topknots play a role in navigation and orientation. After all, each quail infallibly follows its own topknot, wherever it may lead.
Gambel’s Quail male:
Gambel’s Quail female:
Gambel’s Quail male singing:
Gambel’s Quail with topknot leading the way:
Small covey of Gambel’s Quail:
California Quail male:
California Quail female:
Another California Quail:
California Quail head portrait:
California Quail chicks:
California Quail teenagers:
California Quail family: