Nov 6, 2013 | Featured Web Article

Six Chicken-like Birds You Can Attract to Your Backyard

The northern bobwhite is often heard before seen. Listen for the distinctive bobwhite! call in old pastures, farm fields with hedgerows, open-understory woods, and grasslands.
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You may not think of turkeys, quail, and other upland gamebirds as backyard birds, but in many areas of North America, birders can easily lure these species to their backyard feeding stations. Here are a few examples, with feeding suggestions for each.

Plain Chachalaca

This one's just fun to say: Chatch-uh-LAHK-uh. The only member of the guan and currasow family to reach the United States, the plain chachalaca visits backyards in South Texas offering cracked corn, sunflower seed, and fruit pieces. These birds also come to water features to drink.

Wild Turkey

A year-round resident across much of the United States, the Thanksgiving bird is most common in mixed woodlands and agricultural fields but occasionally makes an appearance in suburban neighborhoods. Flocks of turkeys may visit feeders for cracked corn and sunflower seeds.

Scaled Quail

These birds' have a limited range in the Southwest, where they prefer desert grasslands and brushlands. At backyard feeding stations scaled quail prefer cracked corn and mixed seed scattered on the ground. They also visit water features to drink.

Gambel's Quail

Another bird of the Southwest desert, the Gambel's quail visits feeding stations for mixed seed and cracked corn. This species was named after the 19th century American naturalist William Gambel. Some folks like to point out that this bird "gambles" with its life by living in dry desert habitat.

California Quail

Gambel's and California quail appear nearly identical, but their ranges barely overlap. While Gambel's is a more southwestern species (southeast California, Arizona, New Mexico, etc.), California inhabits the rest of the Golden State and into the Northwest. Both species are attracted to backyards offering mixed seed and cracked corn. Both species are also loud as heck, so on second thought, perhaps you don't want to attract them to your backyard...

Nothern Bobwhite

The only native quail found in eastern North America, the northern bobwhite has declined drastically in recent years due to habitat loss. Where these birds still occur, they may visit backyard feeding stations for mixed seed or cracked corn, especially in fall and winter.

If you see any of these species in your backyard this season, we'd love to hear about it! Tell us in the comments below.

About Kyle Carlsen

Kyle is the assistant editor of Bird Watcher's Digest. When not writing about birds, he divides his time between backpacking, traveling, and composing piano music. He's also a self-described coffee addict.

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