Scientific name: Coturnix japonica
Other common names: Coturnix Quail
The Coturnix Quail is a grassland species once found over a wide area of eastern Asia, including Siberia, Manchuria, and China, as well as Japan. Like some other quail species, the wild population may be collapsing, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has rated it as “near threatened,” since the species faces the one-two punch of being hunted for food while losing its habitat to agriculture. According to legend, these birds were domesticated in 12th century Japan as singing – read “crowing” -- birds. In more recent years, they have traveled into space and hatched chicks on the Mir space station.
Despite these adventures, down through the centuries, they have become most popular as a good species for producing meat and eggs. Some of the many varieties available for commercial purposes, include Jumbo, Jumbo Brown Coturnix, Pharoah XLD1, Texas A&M White Coturnix Quail, Spanish, Italian, Golden Italian, Gold, Manchurian Gold.
The normal wild form of the Japanese Quail is a speckled brownish bird with a noticeable white “eyebrow” above the eye. To distinguish males from female, check the chest. Males will have a warmer chestnut brown breast, while the female's breast will be more of a grayish brown. There are a number of attractive color and pattern mutations available to the fancier, from white, silver, yellow, and brown, to such patterns as “White Crescent,” a mutation where a crescent of white feathers appears on the breast.
100 - 240 grams (3.5 - 8.5 oz.)
1 - 3 years
You can potentially double the life of your female Japanese Quail if you allow her to rest during the winter from constantly laying eggs, which does take a toll on her body. In an indoor bird room, put timers on the lights, so that there are increasing hours of darkness in the winter, which naturally discourages laying.
Behavior / temperament:
Apart from the tendency to fly straight up and the potential aggression of a male against a rival, the Japanese Quail is known for its surprisingly large crow for a bird of that size. When considering raising quail as an apartment project, you need to have a realistic understanding of how loud the cock actually gets. However, as long as you understand these well-known characteristics of Coturnix quail, you should be pleased with this species, as it has been highly regarded over the centuries for being an alert, hardy bird that is fairly friendly to its keepers.
Japanese Quail can be acclimated to live in an outdoor aviary with sufficient shelter from extremes of heat and cold. However, like all quail, the males can be territorial, and breeders often recommend a minimum of 16 square feet of floor space for each pair of quail. Adult males cannot usually be kept together without fighting, and an over-enthusiastic male can also be a real nuisance to his mate, so some breeders have had success by keeping three females with each male. In this way, a male can't harass a single female to the point of ill health.
Like other Coturnix Quail, Japanese Quail have a bad habit of lifting off straight up like a helicopter when they're startled. To prevent them from hitting themselves too hard on the head, most breeders place netting or another soft barrier below the ceiling, as a sort of “false roof” to slow the birds down. They also benefit from plants in the aviary or cage, to give them more cover and a greater feeling of security. Aspen bedding is often recommended as a safer alternative to pine or corn cob bedding, if you are cage-breeding mutations in an indoor birdroom.
Quail are remarkably easy to feed as long as you make sure that these ground-feeding birds have easy access to food and waterers on the floor. The backbone of the diet is usually a non-medicated commercial gamebird starter, which the birds can eat their entire lives, not just as babies. Don't ever consider feeding them on starter crumbles meant for chickens, since the balance of medications, calcium, and protein in chicken feed is all wrong for these quail. However, this species has also been successfully maintained on unmedicated turkey crumbles, if for some reason you don't have the gamebird starter You can easily supplement the diet with a chopped salad of apples, greens, carrot, broccoli florets, and sprouted seed, and you may offer them some tiny mealworms or other small insects as well. They should have access to a grit that includes crushed oyster shell or another form of calcium.
Written by Elaine Radford
beautiful colors, meat birds, dual purpose birds, eggs galore, quail eggs, comic relief
boygirl ratio, pretty noises, cleanup crew, pharaoh quail, peppery tasting egg, color varieties
Wonderful, cute little bird!
I had such a great experience with my quail Manna, whom I hatched in my fourth grade class many years ago. Adorable and loving from Day 1, the quail was relatively low maintenance and such a joy to have around.
My dad and I built him a cage—about four feet long, two feet deep and two feet high—with a removable lid and a door for him to exit. We replaced his bedding about every two weeks and his food/water as we saw fit. He enjoyed not just bird seed but all sorts of greens/scraps we threw his way, as well as whatever insects he came across.
When we let him out of his cage (probably at least once a day), he'd wander happily around the house, usually following whatever person was around. He was such a precious member of our family for the six years we had him!.
From almacook Nov 18 2014 7:06PM
Not the biggest, but definitely one of the best.
I came to Coturnix Quail after spending months researching chickens. I purchased my first house a year ago, and have a third of an acre with a 6' block fence, and was eager to begin putting the space to use. After realizing that chickens only produce eggs for 2-3 years but live for upwards of 9-10 years, I was leery of getting them due to the difficulty in processing them for meat. Enter quail.
These guys live 2-3 years and usually produce eggs from 7-8 weeks until they die. They can average an egg a day, and if you supplement their lighting during the cooler months, they can even produce year-round. They are reasonably bright for birds, don't try to escape their hutch, and are easy to catch with one hand.
Here in Arizona, they produce year-round without supplemental lighting if kept totally outside. Mine are in a hutch I built by hand with various materials left from home renovations--all I had to purchase was chicken wire (1/4" for the flooring so as to not damage their feet, 1/2" for the walls), hinges, and door latches. All they need are four walls with decent ventilation; no nest boxes as they lay their eggs wherever. I lay straw/grass clippings under the hutch to catch droppings, and they put it all in my compost pile for my garden. I rigged a PVC 'chicken nipple' watering system for them to use, and they took to it within minutes.
The only downside to these guys is that they can be delicate eaters. If the nutritional makeup of their food is not exactly right for even just a day, the females can stop laying for upwards of two weeks. For example, one day I ran out of food after my dog spilled the bag in the dirt. No big deal, I thought. I can give them boiled eggs and veggies this morning, and have a new bag of feed by dinnertime. They ate the food fine, but then my females did not lay eggs reliably again for 10-14 days. One day I was in a hurry and forgot to put their calcium supplement in to the feed. Again, the females did not lay eggs reliably for 10-14 days.
As long as their food is right (I was finally able to source game bird maintenance feed at a local feed store, thank goodness), these beauties will lay almost daily (mine go back and forth, sometimes I get 7/week from each gal, sometimes 5/week). The eggs are small (about 5 equals one chicken egg in volume), and have a thick inner membrane that requires a knife to get through. I simply cut the tops of the eggs off with a little paring knife, and it's not really that big of a deal. They DO make noise; the males have a quiet but distinctive call, and like to talk in the morning and evening. Compared to a chicken rooster, however, it's very tame, and actually a little cute..
From amandarenee007 Jun 22 2015 10:12PM
The sleepless devil bird
My first negative experience with the Japanese quails was making the mistake of putting them together in the same cage. I noticed them being agressive towards each other but have mistakingly intepreted it as them playing. One morning I left the house and upon my return one of the quails was dead. Killed by the other two.
The death of one of the birds didn't stop the other two from fighting. They still kept pecking and attacking each other, so I had no other option but to modify their cage and keep them seperated. I thought my worries with them were over, but I was very wrong.
Seperating the birds did stop them from hurting each other but has opened the door to a whole different kind of problem. "Robber Tea! Robber Tea" is the best I can describe the sounds that could be heard coming from the cage. It was fun at first since my father's name is Robert, so it kinda sounded like they were calling him, but their endless repetitive singing soon became annoying and even spooky at times. Especially at night, which meant nothing to them. I sometimes felt like they never slept. I know I didn't. "Robber Tea! Robber Tea!" On and on and on. I had to give up eventually, and take them back to the breeder that sold them to me.
The eggs were very high quality, they were tasty and allegedly very healthy too. But they just weren't worth the trouble of being tired all the time and waken in the middle of the night by their awful calls.
If you wish to keep Japanese quails, be sure to have a place to hold them where they won't hurt each other or your ears. Otherwise it's just not worth the trouble.
Japanese quails are awesome pets for insomniacs or those who wish to become one over the course of a few nights..
From NikolaVidovic Sep 30 2014 5:19PM