Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Manu Minute: The Cali valley quail

Ann Tanimoto-Johnson California quail, AMT_0172.jpg
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson
California quails are about the size of a football with grey-blue plumage on their chests and backs and scaled bellies. Their most distinctive feature is their curled black head knots, made up of six plume feathers that droop forward.

What was on your wish list this holiday season? An electric toothbrush? The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde? Socks, a tried-and-true staple?

What about a LIVE bird?

If that seems out of left field, take a look back at the origin of the California quail in Hawaiʻi. This medium-sized game bird first arrived in the islands in 1818 as a gift for King Kamehameha I from a visiting ship captain.

The Cali quail took a liking to our tropical climate and became a common sight across the islands by the end of the 19th century. But since then, predation, hunting and possibly disease have reduced the quail's population to just a few birds on the slopes of Maunakea and Maunaloa on the Big Island.

AMTJ_Manu Minute California quail Spectrogram video.mp4

Ann Tanimoto-Johnson is the Lab Manager & Research Technician in the Hart Lab/Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab. She researches the ecology, bioacoustics, and conservation of our native Hawaiian forests, birds, and bats.
Patrick Hart is the host of HPR's Manu Minute. He runs the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Savannah Harriman-Pote is a producer for The Conversation and Manu Minute. Contact her at
More Episodes