Farm Management

California quail pest detected in Perth Hills

california-quail-shutters
Image: California quail. The males (left and middle birds) have a black face with white markings, while the females (right) are brown. Photograph: Warren Metcalfe/Shutterstock.com

Perth Hills residents have been encouraged to do some birdwatching and report any sightings of California quail to the Department of Agriculture and Food.

The declared pest was detected in Gidgegannup recently, where a male and female bird were apprehended by a vigilant land holder. Another four quails are believed to be still on the loose.

Department biosecurity officer Glen Coupar said California quail were prohibited in Western Australia, because they had potential to establish populations in the wild and become an agricultural and environmental pest.

“California quail eat seeds and foliage and when in high numbers can damage grape and grain crops, and compete with native quail for food and nesting sites” Mr Coupar said.

It is not the first time California quail have been detected in the Perth Hills, after another bird was delivered to the department late 2016.

“We do not know where these birds have come from, under what circumstances and how long they have been here,” Mr Coupar said.

“It is important that we identify where they are present and how many so that we can prevent this pest from becoming established and a problem.”

Californian quail are native to north America, where they are a popular game bird. While they are not present in WA, they have become established in New South Wales, Victoria, as well as New Zealand, Chile and Argentina.

They are a stout, grey bird with some chestnut markings, about 25 centimetres in height, distinguished by a black teardrop-shaped crest and a black and white pattern on the face and throat.

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