types of quail

14 Types of Quail: Pictures and Fun Facts

A quail is a small to medium-sized bird belonging to the family Phasianidae, which includes other game birds like pheasants, partridges, and grouse. They have plump bodies, short legs, and round wings. The different types of quails are known for their delicious meat, and people often hunt them as game birds. They are also popular among bird enthusiasts and can be kept as pets or for breeding purposes.

In this list, we'll look at the most common types of Quail, along with their distinct features and fun facts.

Related Read: Quail Facts, Animals that start with Q

14 Types of Quail Species

1. California Quail (Callipepla californica)

california quail
Photo by PublicDomainImages on Unsplash

Fun Fact: Did you know that the California Quail, also known as the California Valley Quail or Valley Quail, is part of the New World quail family and typically resides on the ground?

A teardrop-shaped feather on its head famously distinguishes California Quail. This species lives in California's bushes and oak forests. Males have a black and white throat (a feature absent in females).

California Quails usually stay on the ground but can fly if needed. They like socializing and hanging out in small groups. They eat primarily seeds and leaves, but sometimes bugs and berries. When it's time to have babies in spring and early summer, the moms lay about 12 to 16 quail eggs in a carefully made Dnest.

2. Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus)

mountain quail
Photo by ALAN SCHMIERER on Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Mountain Quail has an extraordinary skill of flying straight up when surprised?

These birds live in the high mountains of western North America1. They're big, about 11 inches long, and have a special call that echoes in the hills. They're not easy to find because they are incredibly elusive.

They have grey and brown feathers on top and white underneath. They've got a long feather on their head that hangs down. They eat plants, seeds, berries, and bugs. In spring, the female makes a nest on the ground and lays about ten eggs. Like Bobwhite and Gambel Quail, chicks grow in about six months and can be aggressive.

3. Northern Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus)

northern bobwhite quail
Photo by PublicDomainImages on Unsplash

Fun Fact: Did you know that the male Northern Bobwhite (also called Virginia Quail or bobwhite quail) is responsible for incubating the eggs unique to the bird family?

The Northern Bobwhite Quail is a small but tough bird from North America. It has pretty black, white, and rust-brown feathers. The males have white throats and black stripes on their heads, while the females have softer colors. The Northern Bobwhite Quail is the most popular quail breed for hunting and training bird dogs. Furthermore, they're great to eat. They eat bugs in spring and seeds in winter.

Interestingly, Bobwhite Quails stays with the same partner for life, which is rare. They also like being in groups to keep warm and safe, especially in winter.

4. Gambel's Quail (Callipepla gambelii)

gambel's quail
Photo by Joshua Tree National Park on Flickr (Public Domain)

Fun Fact: Did you know Gambel's Quail is known for its unique topknots? The topknot comprises six feathers that can be raised or lowered depending on the bird's mood or level of excitement.

They're primarily gray-blue with rust-colored caps on their head. The males have a black spot on their bellies. You can find them in Arizona, California, and even Hawaii. They like hanging out in shrubs and low plants and like to eat leaves, seeds, and insects.

What's interesting is that they're social birds. They stay in groups even when it's not breeding time. Even though they're good at running on the ground, they'd rather hide when scared. When it's time to have babies, a female lays about 10 to 12 eggs on the ground. When the chicks hatch, they can already run around.

5. Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata)

scaled quail
Photo by Clinton & Charles Robertson on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Scaled Quail possesses a distinctive defense mechanism? When faced with danger, these quails stay still and rely on their intricate feather pattern to blend perfectly with their environment.

These birds live in dry grasslands and deserts of the southwestern United States and Mexico2. They're unique, with a bluish-grey body and a white-tipped crest on their heads. They're sometimes called "blue quail" or "cottontop" because of this.

They usually run instead of flying. They are social animals and live in groups called "coveys," but they don't talk much except during breeding season or if they feel threatened.

6. Coturnix Quail (Coturnix coturnix)

Fun Fact: Did you know that Coturnix Quail birds are known for their incredible speed? A Coturnix Quail can run up to 12 mph when threatened.

Coturnix Quail are small, about the size of your hand, and usually found on the ground in grassy places. But when they're scared, or it gets cold, they can fly (which produces a peculiar sound). This quail bird has a diverse diet and eats seeds, grains, insects, and other small creatures. Their diet helps the environment through seed dispersal.

Females can lay up to 14 eggs, which only need 17 days to hatch. That's pretty fast for wild Quail! And they're clever because their speckled feathers help them hide from animals that might want to eat them. If you are an avid hunter or want to raise Quail for sport, the best picks are the Coturnix and the Bobwhite.

7. Button Quail (Turnix sylvaticus)

button quail
Photo by Greg Miles on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Button Quail is one of the smallest quail species in the world? These adorable little birds measure only about 4 inches in length and weigh just a few ounces.

The Bottom Quails are a small species, measuring approximately 15-17 cm long. They have a unique call, which resembles the sound "tuck-too." These birds live in different parts of the world, like Africa, Asia, and Europe, usually in places near grasslands and water. Even though they're small, they have a lot of character.

Female Button Quails can have multiple mates. The fathers take care of the eggs and babies instead of the moms.

8. Harlequin Quail (Coturnix delegorguei)

harlequin quail
Photo by BramtK on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY 3.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Did you know the Harlequin Quail is famous for its incredible camouflage skills? Compared to other quail species, they are remarkably docile.

Harlequin Quail live in Africa and are a bit different from their relatives. They usually like being alone or with a partner. You can find them in grasslands from Senegal to Ethiopia and other parts of Africa.

The male quails have a stunning blend of colors on their faces and bodies, including black, white, red-brown, and blue-grey. On the other hand, the female quails have a more modest appearance with brown feathers.

9. King Quail (Excalfactoria chinensis)

king quail
Photo by nilssoderman on Pixabay

Fun Fact: Did you know that the King Quail is one of the tiniest species in the world, measuring only 4-5 inches in length?

The King Quail has a unique appearance with a blue-grey forehead and face and a black and white pattern on its chin and throat. It has faint white streaks and black bars on its head and wings. These birds live in places with many plants, like grasslands and wetlands. They like eating seeds, but spotting them is challenging because they're good at hiding in tall grass.

The male King Quail is easily distinguishable from the female with its blue-grey breast, while the female's breast is brown. The King Quail is also a famous game bird in some areas, although hunting them is regulated to protect their populations.

10. Japanese Quails (Coturnix japonica)

Fun Fact: Did you know that Japanese Quail, scientifically known as Coturnix japonica, can lay hundreds of eggs? These tiny birds are famous for their exceptional egg production, with some females laying up to 300 eggs annually!

The Japanese Quail is a small bird from East Asia with gray3, brown, and white colors. They are native to Asia, particularly Japan, and are the smallest domestic quail breeds. These birds like open places like grasslands and farms. They eat seeds, grains, and small insects. Even though they mostly stay on the ground, they're good at flying, especially when it's cold.

Japanese Quails are well-known for their calm behavior, ability to lay many eggs, and quick growth. Chicks become adults in six weeks and can start laying eggs at seven weeks.

11. Chinese Painted Quail (Excalfactoria chinensis)

chinese painted quail
Photo by DickDaniels on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Did you know Chinese Painted Quail are highly skilled in camouflage? Their feathers blend so seamlessly with their surroundings that they can effortlessly blend in with fallen leaves, grass, and even rocks.

The male Chinese Quails have blue-grey chests and brown bodies, with black and white stripes on their throats.

These birds originate from East Asia and can be found in various habitats such as grasslands, farms, and wetlands as long as there is a source of water nearby. They are skilled runners and typically stay on the ground, rarely taking flight. However, if they feel threatened, they can fly rapidly.

12. Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix)

common quail
Photo by Bernard DUPONT on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Common Quail has set the record for the longest migratory journey of any bird in the world? Despite their small size, weighing only around 100 grams, they travel an impressive distance of up to 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) twice a year!

Common Quails are found in Europe, Asia, and Africa and prefer to stay on the ground. They have feathers that help them blend into their surroundings and make a unique sound one can hear in the evenings.

When making babies, the male quails compete to find a partner from April to July. The female Quail quietly lays about 6 to 18 eggs, caring for them for 17 to 21 days until they hatch. As baby quails grow and reach adulthood, they become independent. When traveling to new locations, they follow the flight paths of their parents.

13. Blue Scale Quail (Coturnix adansonii)

Fun Fact: Did you know that Blue Scale Quail, also known as Coturnix adansonii, are recognized for their striking blue feathers?

Blue Scale Quail are birds with blue and greyish feathers that resemble scales. They live in deserts, grassy places, and shrubby areas in North America and Mexico. These quails prefer to stay on the ground and often form small groups. During mating season, male quails display vibrant feathers and unique vocalizations to attract a mate.

The female blue quails lay their eggs on the ground, and both parents are responsible for caring for them and their offspring. Although they primarily remain on the ground, they can fly when necessary.

14. Montezuma Quail (Cyrtonyx montezumae)

montezuma quail
Photo by Dominic Sherony on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Did you know that Montezuma Quails are known for their distinctive topknot feathers on their head? This unique feature makes them easy to spot in their natural habitat.

Montezuma Quails are unique birds with black and white faces. They live in places with tall grass and trees in the US and Mexico, and they're about the size of a pigeon. They eat seeds, plants, and bugs from the ground.

Male quails use whistling to locate their mates, while female quails lay their eggs on the ground. Both parents are responsible for caring for the eggs and the young ones. Although they primarily walk or run, they can fly short distances.

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1

Brunk, K. M., Gutiérrez, R. J., Peery, M. Z., Cansler, C. A., Kahl, S., & Wood, C. M. (2023). Quail on fire: changing fire regimes may benefit mountain quail in fire-adapted forests. Fire Ecology, 19(1).

2

Peterson, M. J. (2001). Northern Bobwhite and scaled quail abundance and hunting regulation: a Texas example. Journal of Wildlife Management, 65(4), 828.

3

Minvielle, F. (2004). The future of Japanese quail for research and production. Worlds Poultry Science Journal, 60(4), 500–507.

Chinny Verana is a degree-qualified marine biologist and researcher passionate about nature and conservation. Her expertise allows her to deeply understand the intricate relationships between marine life and their habitats.

Her unwavering love for the environment fuels her mission to create valuable content for TRVST, ensuring that readers are enlightened about the importance of biodiversity, sustainability, and conservation efforts.

Fact Checked By:
Mike Gomez, BA.

Photo by Y S on Unsplash
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