quail

quail

[kweyl]
quail, common name for a variety of small game birds related to the partridge, pheasant, and more distantly to the grouse. There are three subfamilies in the quail family: the New World quails; the Old World quails and partridges; and the true pheasants and seafowls. No species of New World quail is migratory, but some Old World quail represent the only migratory species of the order. The migratory quail of Eurasia has been known for its phenomenal migrations since biblical times. Quails have high reproductive potentials, with 12 to 15 eggs laid per clutch. The nests are built on the ground in vegetation. The female does the major portion of incubation and rearing. Quails are extremely popular game birds. The Old World quail has never been naturalized in America; in the central and S United States the bobwhite, Colinus virginianus, is commonly called quail (or partridge). The helmet and plumed quails, named for their crests, the Gambel's quail, and the valley and scaled quails are all western birds. They eat harmful insects and seeds and travel in flocks called coveys. Quails are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Galliformes, family Phasianidae.

California quail (Callipepla californica).

Any of several species of short-tailed game birds (family Phasianidae), some with a head plume that is straight or curled forward. Species range from 5 to 13 in. (13–33 cm) long. Some of the 95 Old World species have leg spurs, but the 36 New World species never do. Quails prefer open country and brushy borders. The male may help incubate the 12 eggs. Quails mainly eat seeds and berries but also leaves, roots, and insects. The common quail (Coturnix coturnix) of Eurasia and Africa is the only migratory bird in the order Galliformes. Quails are generally smaller than partridges. Seealso bobwhite.

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Quail is a collective name for several genera of mid-sized birds in the pheasant family Phasianidae, or in the family Odontophoridae. New World quails are not closely related but named for their similar appearance and behaviour. Buttonquails are in a different family (Turnicidae) and are not true quails.

Behaviour

Quails are small, plump terrestrial birds. They are seed eaters but will also take insects and similar small prey. They nest on the ground and are capable of short, rapid bursts of flight. Some species such as the Japanese and Common Quail are migratory and fly for long distances. Some quail are farmed in large numbers. The Japanese Quail (or coturnix quail) is kept mostly to produce eggs.

Species in taxonomic order

See also

References

External links

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