Quail are plump, short-necked game birds that live in broad regions of North America, Europe, Asia, and northern Africa in their native environment. South America and Australia, to a lesser extent, are also home to them. Some species have been domesticated and bred on farms for their flesh and eggs, while wild quail are hunted by some communities in specific areas. Because their squat bodies make it difficult for them to stay in flight for extended distances, quail birds spend the majority of their time on the ground. The plumes on their heads, which are a collection of tiny feathers, allow birders to quickly identify any species.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Galliformes
- Family: Phasianidae
- Genus: Coturnix
- Scientific Name: Coturnix Coturnix
- Conservation Status: Least Concern
- Locations: AfricaAsiaCentral-AmericaEurasiaEuropeNorth-AmericaOceaniaSouth-America
- Main Prey: Seeds, Flowers, Insects
- Distinctive Feature: Small body size and brightly colored eggs
- Wingspan: 30cm – 37cm (12in – 14.6in)
- Habitat: Woodland and forest areas
- Predators: Cats, Snakes, Raccoons
- Diet: Omnivore
- Lifestyle: Solitary
- Favorite Food: Seeds
- Type: Bird
- Average Clutch Size: 6
- Slogan: Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!
Quail Physical Characteristics
- Colour: Brown, Blue, Black, White
- Skin Type: Feathers
- Top Speed: 15 mph
- Lifespan: 3 – 5 years
- Weight: 70g – 140g (2.4oz – 4.9oz)
- Height: 11cm – 20cm (4.5in – 7.8in)
5 Quail Facts
- When frightened, quail birds may fly up to 12 miles per hour through the underbrush.
- When these birds are frightened, they conduct quick flights known as “flushing.”
- Adult quail birds like taking dust baths by digging two to three inches deep into loose dirt and fluttering their wings.
- Quail and pheasants belong to the same family of game birds, despite their differences in size.
- Quail birds may be identified by their vocalizations, which frequently sound like human phrases like ‘Chicago’ or ‘Bob White,’ which is the name given to a quail species found in the southeast United States.
Quail Scientific Name
The scientific name for common quail is Coturnix coturnix, which means quail or a feminine word of affection in Latin. Old World quails are classified into five subspecies: Coturnix coturnix, Coturnix coturnix, Coturnix coturnix, Coturnix coturnix, Coturnix coturnix, Coturnix
New World quails are members of the Callipepla genus and are also known as crested quails. The California Quail (Callipepla californica), which has five subspecies, is one of the most abundant New World quail species. Bobwhites, sometimes known as New World quail, are members of the genus Colinus, with the Virginia Bobwhite, also known as the Northern Bobwhite, being the most widely distributed.
Appearance and Behavior
These are tiny birds that are larger than robins but smaller than crows, however, there is a lot of variation across the species. Some are as short as four inches tall and can grow to be as tall as 11 or 12 inches tall. They have a long, square tail and tiny heads with short, wide wings. Both men and females have a forward-projecting topknot of feathers, with males having a longer and larger plume that is black and made up of many feathers. The underside has a scaly look due to the color and arrangement of feathers.
Speckling can also be found on the upper breast of some species. The beak of many quail are similar to those of seedeaters, which are serrated, short, thick, and somewhat decurved.
A clock gland on the neck of Japanese quail males secretes a white frothy liquid that is commonly used to measure reproductive fitness.
Because they like to lurk in the underbrush, these birds are famously difficult to spot. Instead of seeing them, you’ll typically hear their unique cries. Males make vocalizations throughout the mornings, evenings, and even late at night. They are mostly solitary birds who prefer to spend their time alone or with only one other quail. During mating season, huge flocks, known as convoys, congregate in groups of around 100 people. To defend each other from predators, the Bobwhite prefers to dwell in groups of 11 to 12 birds. Some Old World quail species migrate, but the majority of New World quail species do not, and they remain in the same approximate region where they were born.
Gambel’s quail, for example, prefers to sleep in thick bushes or trees. They like the shade provided by various types of flora because it protects them from predators. Females prefer to make their nests on the ground, lining them with twigs, grass stems, leaves, and feathers, and hiding them behind bushes, rocks, or other sheltered locations. Dust baths are popular among quail as a means of removing bugs from their feathers and keeping themselves clean.
Japanese quail, the most common species farmed for meat and eggs, are territorial in captivity and frequently defend their homes against intruders. If they are overloaded, they will occasionally resort to pecking or cannibalism.
California Quail may be found in chaparral, sagebrush, oak-dominated woods, and foothill forests across California and the Northwest. Semi-arid and brush scrubland environments in the southern United States and Mexico are also popular. They may be found in city parks, gardens, and agricultural regions, and are tolerant to humans.
These birds are omnivores, although their diet is predominantly vegetarian. Chicks enjoy eating insects, but as they get older, their diet switches to plant matter. Seeds, leaves, wheat, barley, flowers, and fruit, as well as grasshoppers and worms, make up their diet. Some species, such as Gambel’s quail, may easily adjust their food to the season and their water requirements. These birds will consume cactus fruits and berries if they are available.
Quail Predators and Threats
Because quail are tiny, they are preyed upon by a variety of animals. Raccoons, foxes, squirrels, coyotes, bobcats, skunks, dogs, and cats are among the small animals that consume them. Quail eggs are also hunted by hawks, owls, rats, and weasels.
Humans are predators as well, although the vast majority of quail and quail eggs ingested by humans originate from commercial farms. Wild quail, on the other hand, are frequently chased by hunters in the southeastern United States.
Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan
Quails are simple to raise in captivity. Even though they are susceptible to typical poultry illnesses, they are fairly resistant. Japanese quail, the most widely farmed breed, matures six weeks after hatching. They can start reproducing when they are 50 to 60 days old if given adequate care. During their first year, hens may lay an average of 200 eggs. In captivity, these birds have a two-and-a-half-year lifetime.
When a single man is paired with three females, high fecundity results. The average time it takes for an egg to hatch in 23 days. Because newly hatched quail chicks are so tiny, they must be safeguarded from drowning in water troughs by covering those areas with stones or marbles to keep them out of the water. The pebbles can be removed when the chicks are one week old.
Some species, like Gambel’s quail, are monogamous, but others, like California quail, produce broods with many males and females. Males claim territories and compete for females during mating season in the spring when females build nests to lay 12 to 16 eggs following fertilization. The chicks are looked for by both males and females.
Most species’ chicks are precocial, meaning they are fully formed when they leave the nest and follow their parents. They can fly after two weeks and are mostly self-sufficient after three to four weeks. Wild quail have a two- to the three-year lifetime on average, although some can live up to five or six years.
Some species, like the Northern Bobwhite, have just a 20% chance of surviving through their first year. Furthermore, only 32 to 44% of eggs hatch successfully. Northern Bobwhites will frequently attempt to produce two to three broods each season because of their low survival rate. Hatching begins in late April and lasts until early July for this species.
Each year, around 70 to 80 percent of the wild quail population dies. The high breeding rate compensates for the high death rate.
A few wild quails are being harmed by habitat loss and unregulated hunting. The Southern Bobwhite is the most noteworthy, having suffered as a result of urban development and the destruction of its preferred habitats.
Despite the fact that Gambel’s quail is a popular game bird, the species has a large population, therefore there are no severe conservation or hunting restrictions.
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