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California quail may be moving into Kamloops

A California quail in an Okanagan back yard. There have been reports of sightings of the bird in the Kamloops area.
August 29, 2021 - 8:35 AM

There are rumors among birders and wildlife enthusiasts in Kamloops, B.C. that the California quail has been spotted in the area in the past five years.

The bird is well established in the Okanagan valley and reports have come in that they may be moving into Kamloops. 

Biologist Rick Howie has been keeping an eye open for the California quail for 45 years as an active member of the Kamloops Naturalist Club. He says he often gets people phoning him to report sightings of rare wildlife, and he has received a few reports of California quail sightings since 2015.

"California quail is one of many species I have been watching for in this area," Howie said. "There are over 300 species of birds here and the quail is one I keep track of. Over the years people have phoned me to report sightings in the Valleyview area and on the Tk'emlups reserve. Only single birds have been spotted and there has been no indication of developed flocks. I am not sure that they are breeding yet."

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Howie says the birds have also established near Squilax, and near Lee Creek and Celista areas in the Shuswap.

"There have been small populations in varying numbers reported in these areas over the years," he said. "No one has reported flocks or groups of them. It takes awhile for birds to expand their range. They need to find new habitats and breed successfully. That process can take awhile."

Established Kamloops wildlife photographer, Doug Giles, says he spotted one at Monte Lake near Kamloops a couple of years ago, and predicts the birds will be in Kamloops before long if they are not already.

"These birds range from the US border to the Vernon area and I suspect they are increasing in population throughout the Okanagan valley and are slowing finding their way to Kamloops," Giles said. "The one I spotted was across the road from the school in Westwold."

Owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Kamloops, Kurtis Huston, says he has also been receiving reports of sightings of the quail in the area.

"It is well documented that the California quail has been on the move towards Kamloops for a couple of years now," he said. "There have been reports of them around Kamloops however as far as I know they have not established a strong breeding population here yet."

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Kamloops residents can keep their eyes open and cameras ready for the elusive plumes of the California quail.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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