According to Pinau Merlin, these quail produce just one brood per year, but pairs that did not breed successfully in spring will try again given generous summer rains. Early in the season, quail forage on succulent vegetation. In fact females require the vitamin A found in leafy greens for development of her reproductive organs. In years of drought, when the desert floor lies barren, she’ll be physically unable to breed. Nature’s birth control ensures that baby quail have a fighting chance of survival. After the salads of spring have withered with heat, quail parents teach their young to find grains, seeds, mesquite beans and the fruits of cacti. Summer also brings plenty of insects, particularly ants and beetles that the quail peck and devour.
Females generally lay 10-12 eggs, so my observation of two families with just one chick illustrates the challenges facing youngsters. Quail nest on the ground and coyotes, round tail ground squirrels, Gila monsters, kingsnakes and gopher snakes find the eggs delectable. The precocial babies run after their parents within minutes of hatching, but that is often not enough. Quail babies need heat, temperatures above 90 degrees, and water, but not too much of either. They also rely on the safety offered by the covey. A baby quail alone is extremely vulnerable to predation.
Given all that, quail seem plentiful here in the suburbs that edge the desert preserves. Keep your eyes open, perhaps you will see some of the rare late-summer cutest of chicks. If not, there is a great YouTube of quail chicks.