15 Interesting Quail Facts

One of the things I love the most about nature in general is just how much there is to learn. Each and every animal on this big blue marble we inhabit is totally unique, and their behaviors are fascinating.

a few quails inside a cage
a few quails inside a cage

You could spend your whole life learning everything you could about the animal kingdom and you never even get close to learning at all.

For that reason, it’s usually best to pick one group of animals to dive into and for me it’s birds. Some of the most interesting birds around are quails.

Most people don’t give them a second thought and they certainly aren’t the most commonly seen bird around human habitation but I think the little things are charming, and they certainly have enough unique behaviors to make them the apple of any bird watcher’s eye.

I’ll be telling you about 15 such interesting quail facts just below…

Weight2.5 to 5 ounces, average
Height4.5 to 8 inches, average
Speed12+mph, running; 22 to 30mph, flying
Feather ColorsBrown, Black, Tan, White, Blue
Lifespan3 to 5 years
Eggs Laid, YearlyCaptivity: 200+ per year, average; up to 300 or more
Eggs Per Clutch6-12, average
Egg ColorWhite, off white or tan with brown speckles
HabitatGrasslands, crop fields, forest, brush
FoodSeeds, plant matter, insects
PredatorsCats, snakes, raccoons, possums, coyotes

1. There are More than 125 Species of Quail Worldwide

Quails are a widespread family of birds with over 125 different species found around the world. They vary widely in appearance, size, behavior, and habitat preferences.

Some quails are kept as domesticated birds, while others are known for their striking plumage or distinctive calls.

They exhibit a wide variety of mating practices across all the species, and some have a much wider range than others, even migrating between continents!

2. Quails are Predominately Ground-Dwelling

Most species of quail prefer to spend their time on the ground in crop fields, in grasslands, or in other low-lying vegetation.

They have adapted to their terrestrial lifestyle by developing strong legs and feet, which allow them to run quickly and evade predators.

In fact, you might say that quail have more in common with a roadrunner than other birds!

Given any opportunity, a quail would much rather walk or run to where it needs to go than fly most of the time, at least as far as most species are concerned.

This ground-bound lifestyle has influenced everything they do, from the way they build nests to the way they find mates and how they evade predators.

3. Most Quails Don’t Fly Well

You might have guessed this from the previous entry! Unlike other birds that are known for their soaring flights, quail aren’t good fliers.

Most species are only capable of short bursts of rapid flight, which they use to escape danger or to move between different areas of their home range.

Your typical quail species will be able to fly several hundred yards before stopping to rest. Quails can fly quickly when they have to, but this isn’t a bird you’ll see taking to wing unless they have no other choice, most of the time.

However, some species like the European quail traditionally migrate in huge flocks, and they will actually fly all the way from northern Europe way down into sub-Saharan Africa!

That’s thousands of arduous miles for a little bird, especially ones that are not renowned for flying.

Running of the Quail

4. Quails are Fast Runners

Quails are renowned for their incredible speed and agility on the ground. They are able to run at impressive speeds, reaching up to 12 miles per hour in some cases.

That doesn’t sound too fast, but consider that is faster than most human athletes can run! This running skill is essential to their survival, as it allows them to quickly outpace predators and evade danger.

Quails show surprising maneuverability when running, and it is common to see them dipping, ducking, dodging and diving through the densest underbrush without slowing down or missing a beat.

Quail certainly use this ability to escape from predators, but they might also use it to chase down small insects and other creatures they eat for food.

5. Quails Prefer to Hide or Run When Threatened

When quail feel threatened, their natural instinct is to hide or run away. They will often seek cover in brush, tall grass or dense foliage, or they may run quickly across open terrain to escape danger.

This is in stark contrast to most other birds capable of flight which will immediately take flight in an effort to use speed and maneuverability, or just altitude, to avoid harm.

Quail are not great flyers, and even when confronted with ground-bound pray, they will typically make a run for it rather than fly.

But they can, and will, fly when they have to or when they have no other choice to avoid danger. More on that in just a second…

6. Quails will Fly Straight Up When Cornered or Startled

While quail are not known for their sustained flight, and they prefer to run or hide when confronted with a predator, they can still take off when they have to.

When cornered or startled, quail will sometimes fly straight up into the air, like the proverbial rocket, in a move that can help them evade predators or get out of harm’s way.

In captivity, this can actually cause problems because it is an instinctive behavior that can lead a quail to collide with an overhead roof or run covering, sometimes with fatal results.

This is not a particularly common defensive strategy unless a quail has already tried to get away on foot or is already in hiding, but it is a quirk that has endeared the quail to generations of hunters for reasons that we will soon discover.

7. Quails are Popular Gamebirds with Hunters

Quails have long been popular gamebirds for hunters around the world. Their small size and explosive, rapid, vertical launch from cover makes them a challenging target.

This makes quail hunting particularly exciting for bird hunters, and many hunting enthusiasts prize quail for their delicious and tender meat.

8. Quail Calls Usually Sound Like Whistles

Quails are known for their distinctive calls, which typically sound like high-pitched whistles or warbling chirps.

These vocalizations are used to communicate with other members of the flock, to attract mates, or to signal potential dangers in the environment.

9. Most Quails Mate for Life

Many species of quail are truly monogamous, meaning that quail pair up with a mate for life. These strong bonds help to ensure reproductive success, as the male and female work together to build nests, incubate eggs, and care for the young.

Quail species that mate in this way include Gamble’s quail, King quail and Button quail, and any of them might have several generations of children over the course of their lives.

10. Quails Can Live for Several Years

Depending on the species, quail can live for several years in the wild or in captivity.

Domesticated quail can often live for up to 5 years or a little more, while wild quail usually have shorter lifespans due to predation, habitat loss, disease and other environmental factors.

11. Quails Can be Farmed for Meat and Eggs

They are a surprisingly popular choice for commercial farming operations, as quails are relatively easy to raise and provide a source of both meat and eggs.

Hybrid quail breeds have been developed that can produce eggs all year round, making them a valuable resource for farmers around the world.

12. Some Quail Species Lay Tons of Eggs!

Certain species of quail are known for their incredible egg-laying abilities, with some exceptional individual hens able to lay upwards of 300 in a single year.

That’s remarkable for a bird so small and with so short a lifespan comparatively, especially when compared against chickens and ducks.

These high-yielding quail are often kept and bred by farmers and can be used for food, incubation, or hatching.

13. Quails Have Been Domesticated for Thousands of Years

You might think farming quail is a niche livestock activity in our era, but that is just not true. People have been domesticating and raising quail for thousands of years, using them for food, hunting stock, and even as pets.

Today, some people keep them as companion animals and many more keep, breed and raise them for their valuable and a nutritious eggs and meat.

14. Your Quails Can Recognize You

Quail are not just cute and charming animals: they are highly intelligent, too. Studies have shown that quail can recognize individual humans, using their unique visual and auditory cues to distinguish between different people.

Even more, your quail will remember whether you treat them well or whether you’re mean to them, and they will act accordingly!

15. Quails Might Like Music!

Believe it or not, some researchers have suggested that quail might be responsive to music. I swear I’m not making this up, and I didn’t believe it myself until I looked into it.

Studies conducted as recently as the 21st century have shown that exposing quail to upbeat, classical, or reggae makes them more productive in terms of eggs and weight gain and less aggressive compared to other kinds of music or no music at all.

It sounds crazy, but if you want your quail to live their best lives you might need to give them some tunes.

quail facts Pinterest image

1 thought on “15 Interesting Quail Facts”

  1. Great article Tim.
    I live near a mid-sized town in western Washington and wonder how quail might do in our area. Most winters we get a light snow or two but temps rarely go under 20 degrees F with average winter days in the 40’s. I’m thinking that with some protection from wind and clean straw bedding, they might do OK.
    Are there commercial feeds available specifically for quail?
    Do you have a favorite breed?
    I grew up in ND and ate quite a few ruffed grouse, but never ate quail. Can you comment on meat flavor? I reckon the eggs taste pretty much like chicken eggs?
    Thanks for all the good info.

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