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(Common) Quail

Both sexes: Tiny, yellow-brown streaked bird.

Quails are very small and elusive and are usually heard rather than seen.

The plumage is buff-brown with darker brown markings on the back and wings. The head is darker with a buff streak on the crown and above each eye. The bill is grey and the legs are pale brown.

The male has a dark central stripe and two curved band sat the throat.

The breast of the female is spotted and the throat is paler.

Juveniles are similar to the female.

Scientific Name Coturnix coturnix
Length 16-18 cm (6¼-7")
Wing Span 32-35 cm (12½-14")
Weight 70-135g (2½-4¾ oz)
Breeding Pairs 300
Present Summer
Status Amber

Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.


The song, which is heard mainly at dawn and dusk, is unmistakable and is most easily remembered by the phrase "wet my lips".


© Jean Roché,


Quail feed on the seeds of plants, such as poppy, wheat and barley, and less often insects and larvae of ants, beetles, etc.


The Quail nests on the ground, often in fields of clover or corn. The female makes a hollow in the ground, but with dense cover, and lines it with plant material.

The eggs, which are about 30 mm by 23 mm, are smooth and non-glossy, and whitish to yellow with heavily spotted and blotched with brown. The hen alone incubates the eggs. The precocial nestlings are able to feed themselves, but their mother continues to care for them.

The young birds can fly after about 19 days, but the brood stay together for up to 50 days.

Breeding Starts Clutches Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
April-June 1-2 7-12 16-21 c.19


The Quail is a summer visitor from central Africa, south of the Sahara Desert.


The Quail population dwindled owing to changes in farming practices in Britain, drought in its wintering grounds and hunting during its migration through southern European countries, but in the last 25 years the population has more than doubled. Consequently, it is an Amber List species.