I48 VoL. IX , THE GAMBEL PARTRIDGE IN CALIFORNIA By M. FRENCH GILMAN N response to a query in a recent CONDOR concerning the western limit of the range of Lophortyx ?ambeh', I will give some of my observations. Beginning at Fig Tree John's place, 197 feet below the sea level, as the most easterly point of my quail hunting I found the birds very numerous all over the western part of Salton sink. At Mecca, Thermal, Coachella and Indio, settle- ments in the Coachella Valley all below sea level, the birds are very common and do considerable damage in the vineyards. Along the southwest part of the valley next the Martinez Mountains are the Indian villages of Agua Dulce, Alamos, Mar- tinez and Toros, where the birds seem more numerous, if anything, and much tamer, as the Indians hunt them very rarely. The dense mesquite and screw- bean thickets provide a safe retreat and with the Crissal Thrasher and Abert Towhee they form a happy, if hot, family. At Indian Wells, near the rim of the ancient sea, I saw a few flocks of this quail. Here they must go some distance for water as the well is the only known supply for several miles. But the birds may have their own source of liquid re- freshment as I saw other species there; such as Leconte Thrashers, Abert Towhees, Phainopeplas, Saint Lucas Woodpeckers and Plumbeous Gnatcatchers. At Palm Springs, altitude about 500 feet, gambeli is thoroly at home in the screw-bean and paloverde thickets. They are much hunted here and develop a faculty of escaping, that disgusts and baffles the hunter. A big flock is seen and pursued. They divide and Nimrod follows the larger portion which again divides and this process of elimination by division continues till the hunter finds he has been up against a vanishing fraction. If near a range the flock immediately takes to the hills and anyone who has once followed them up those sun-burned rocks is ever afterward in the sour grapes class. From the old sea level westward, the desert gradually narrows and the altitude increases till San Gorgonio Pass is reached, altitude 2500 feet. W. G. Wright of San Bernardino has termed this northwest arm of the Colorado Desert a cornucopia, and from a naturalist's standpoint the name is well deserved. A former San Ber- nardino journalist, Kearny by name, once dubbed it a continental funnel, from the atmospheric activity sometimes displayed there. At suitable points along this narrowing arm of the desert are found small colonies of the Desert Quail as it is commonly called. At Whitewater they breed regularly and are found occasionally, or even regularly in small numbers, to within three miles of Banning, or six miles east of the San Bearnardino meridian. Banning seems the extreme western limit of their range; at least I have no knowledge of any seen west of that point. Here the characteristic desert plants such as 2?ucca baccala, ]?alea caltfornica and Dalea schotli, Larrea mexicana, and various cacti, give way to a more civilized flora. To the north of the Coachella Valley is the Morongo range of mountains, the desert continuation of the San Bernardino range and separating the below-sea-level desert from a higher district which merges into the Mojave desert to the north. In this range the desert quail are found and all along the north desert slopes of the San Bernardino range as well, to nearly, if not quite, the San Bernardino meridian. At such points as Mission Creek, Morongo, Warren's Well, the "Pipes," Rattle- snake Canyon, Burn's Canyon, and Old Woman Springs the Gambel Partridge is at home. At points across the range north of Salton in the mining districts at
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