Phytoestrogens, largely formononetin and genistein, are produced in the leaves of stunted desert annuals in a dry year. When ingested by California quail, these compounds apparently inhibit reproduction and prevent the production of young that will not have adequate food. In a wet year, forbs grow vigorously and phytoestrogenic substances are largely absent. Quail then breed prolifically and the abundant seed crop carries the enlarged population through the winter.