Presidio proceeds to reintroduce quails


California Quail by GNP Conservancy

Quails, California’s state bird, have been dwindling in population because of loss of habitat and predators.

Ariana Turner '23, Staff Reporter

Many times we’ve been told that humans are better off not existing because we take too much from the planet. 

During the pandemic, people were not allowed to go outside in large groups for months at a time, and in turn, could not damage anything. Without the presence of humans, some animals and wildlife have flourished. But, some have not, especially in areas where humans outnumber the wildlife, this is certainly true for California’s Quail. 

The Californian Quail is known for its signature “chi-ca-go” bird call, and it’s aesthetically pleasing figure and looks. The grey bird is also known as the California state bird as of 1931. They mostly thrive in San Francisco’s Presidio, but recently this is not the case.

Over the years, quails have slowly diminished, and fewer and fewer have been seen by local California residents.

“Growing up, I often saw them scurrying across the roads and pecking through the brush in my homelands of the East Bay,” Biology teacher Colleen O’Rourke said. “But I have noticed visibly how their numbers have been going down over the past few decades.” 

One of the many reasons for this extinction is the recent increase in human activity in the Presidio. Quail require open space and basic resources for themselves and they’re young. Humans taking up space with buildings can directly affect the quails in a serious way.

“Obviously, building buildings on top of open space has reduced the habitat available for quail. Additionally, humans changed the biology of the Presidio by planting invasive non-native plants like eucalyptus trees, ivy, and ice plants, which reduced biodiversity and the food that Quail would normally depend on,” O’Rourke said.

“Humans tend to bring in other animals like feral cats, which prey on quail far more than native predators would, and dogs, which chase quail and damage chicks and eggs,” O’Rourke says.

Another thing that the Presidio Park Rangers could do is open space for the quails.

Experts and O’Rourke concluded that the only way to reintroduce quails into the Presidio is with human help and willingness to do so. 

“Restoring native plant habitat, putting in protected areas where feral cats are removed and dogs aren’t allowed, and removing invasive species like turkeys and ice plants,” is a good start, O’Rourke explained.

A recently published news article from the San Francisco Examiner seems to agree with this point as well saying 

Robyn Purchia, an environmental attorney, wrote,  “This is why it’s critical to make species, such as the California quail, familiar and important to future generations before they are forgotten. The bird’s long-term survival depends, in part, on San Franciscans’ willingness to welcome it back.” 

Another concern people have is that the quail will go extinct like the California Grizzly Bear, although the circumstances are different, it is a genuine concern.