Charming, compact little birds, Common Quail are a familiar sight in some areas of the world. They have been considered valuable for centuries.
Common Quail Care [Habitat, Breeding, Egg Color, Temperature]
Common Quail live in fields of tall grass or grains. They communicate with one another through a variety of calls. Males attract females with the ‘triplet call’ at breeding season.
Usually, Common Quail are hard to identify because they hide in vegetation. Rather than taking flight when it feels threatened, the Common Quail generally attempts to run and hide.
In summer when insects are more abundant, the Common Quail will feed on insects as well as their usual diet of seeds. Common Quail have also been known to eat grains and grasses.
In captivity they need about 22% protein in their feed. Generally, these birds migrate seasonally but the migratory patterns are not well understood because they are quite complex.
The Common Quail has been bred in two size varieties. One is the size that is found in the wild, and the other is a larger variety that was developed for meat and larger eggs.
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Color varieties have also been developed. These include, Normal (the normal, wild coloring), Manchurian Gold (the black of the wild coloration is replaced by gold, the brown and red is replaced by cream), Tuxedo (Black with a white breast), English Black (Black), Barred (brown with black barring), and White (all white).
The average domestic Common Quail measures about 17 centimeters in length, with males a bit smaller than females.
Their bodies are round in shape and their legs and bills are rather weak. The tails are quite short. Generally, the Common Quail’s plumage is russet brown and males have an anchor pattern at their throats consisting of a vertical dark brown or black line connecting perpendicularly to a similar horizontal line.
Females have spots over their breasts and their buff colored throats are unmarked. The rest of the quail’s body has a mottled pattern with a paler underside.
Common Quail have dark eyes and there is a white stripe in evidence above each eye. Many have white-collar patterns, although in some females these may not be so noticeable.
The legs of Common Quail are flesh colored and their beaks range in color from an olive brown to a lighter yellow brown shade. Males can be distinguished from females by a large round bump on the rump of the male.
The Common Quail occurs throughout almost all of Europe and its range extends down into North Africa and over into India and northern China in the east.
Although Common Quail and other species of quail, like Asiatic Quail, do not interbreed in the wild, they can reproduce with reduced fertility.
In Western Europe, due to escapees from quail farms, these hybrids may be more common with a detrimental effect on the Common Quail’s genetic purity as well as their fertility.
Common Quail are also known as European Quail or Mediterranean Quail.
As game birds, they have been hunted for meat for centuries and today are raised popularly as domestic birds. The eggs of Common Quail are considered a delicacy.
The yokes are much milder than chicken eggs and have an almost creamy texture when hard boiled.
Care of domesticated adults is not difficult. They need protection from rain and wind, and shade when it is very hot.
It should be noted that this breed has a bad habit of flying strait up when they are startled. They will often hit their heads on the roof of their enclosure.
This can be a major problem, and can even cause death to the quail. Normally clipping their wings can solve this problem, and making the cages sort, so they can’t build up their speed.
It should also be noted that the males can be very aggressive, and for this reason you should have a ratio of one male to three females.
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Common Quail may occasionally be toxic to some people. The name of this toxicity is Coturnism, and it affects a seemingly random cross section of the population. It is thought that people may show a genetic predisposition for the illness.
These quail are very prolific in captivity. The domesticated ones will not usually brood their eggs, so an incubator is required. The hens start laying around 6 weeks of age.
The Common Quail usually breeds in the early summer and finds a mate through vocal displays. Males tend to highly outnumber females, so breeding is a very selective process.
A clutch of between nine and 15 eggs will generally be deposited in a scrape the female makes in the ground and then lined with vegetation.
These eggs usually incubate for between 16 and 21 days.
The chicks are considered delicate, because they are so small. They have to have very warm temperatures (98 Fahrenheit) at first, and they often die of drowning – using sallow pop-bottle fonts can prevent this.