Friday, August 27, 2010

The Meaning of Quail

The recent sighting of a quail in Debs Park along the Arroyo Seco is exciting news for those who understand the process, both natural and human-assisted, of ecosystem restoration.

Quail are terrestrial birds, which means they live and forage at ground level. Members of the pheasant family, quail are an indicator species for the Arroyo Seco habitat corridor, because they are a sensitive species whose presence or absence 'indicates' the environmental health of the region.

For urban nature enthusiasts, the appearance of quail is usually an indicator that a habitat is approximately 90% restored to a natural functioning ecosystem. This sighting in Debs, along the lower corridor of the Arroyo Seco, is especially exciting given the urban density of the area.

Quail are common in the Upper Arroyo Seco Watershed, including headwaters in Angeles National Forest, although last year's Station Fire has devastated all natural habitats and has resulted in animal migration southward. Sightings of quail 'families' are common in the Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena.  The Debs Park quail sighting adds new hope for continued ecosystem health in Los Angeles' historic Arroyo corridor.

A word of caution: quail lay eggs in ground nests that are easily disturbed and destroyed. That's one reason why we want you, your children, your bicycles, your dogs, and your horses to stay on established trails when enjoying an outdoor excursion. This is how YOU can help the quail live and thrive.

For more information on enjoying nature in Debs Park, visit

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