The Common Quail, Coturnix coturnix, is a small (21 - 23 cm) rotund bird, essentially streaked brown with a white eyestripe, and, in the male, a black chin. As befits its migratory nature, it has long wings, unlike most typically short-winged gamebirds.
Breeding / Range:
Upon attaining an age of 6-8 weeks, this quail breeds on open arable farmland and grassland across most of Europe and Asia, laying 6-18 eggs in a ground nest. The eggs take from 16-18 days to hatch. It is a strongly migratory bird, unlike most of the gamebirds, and winters in Africa.
Diet / Feeding:
This is a terrestrial species, feeding on seeds and insects on the ground. It is notoriously difficult to see, keeping hidden in crops, and reluctant to fly, preferring to creep away instead. Even when flushed, it keeps low and soon drops back into cover.
Song / Call:
Often the only indication of its presence is the distinctive "wet-my-lips" repetitive song of the male. The call is uttered mostly in the mornings, evenings and sometimes at night.
It is heavily hunted as game on passage through the Mediterranean area.
This species over recent years has seen an increase in its propagation in the United States and Europe, however most of this increase is with hobbyists.
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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