© Copyright: Images: M. & W. von Wright (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Coturnix coturnix

  • Name also: Common Quail
  • Family: Pheasants and partridges – Phasianidae
    Subfamily: Grey partridges – Perdicinae
  • Appearance: A very small gallinaceous bird with light and dark patterning on plumage.
  • Size: Length 16–18 cm, wingspan 32–35 cm, weight 70–155 g.
  • Nest: In a shallow depression on the ground concealed among tall vegetation, lined with green plant parts.
  • Breeding: 8–13 eggs laid in June–July, incubated by female for 16–21 days. Fledglings learn to fly within about three weeks.
  • Occurrence: Scarce breeder, may occur in most regions of Finland, but has declined since the late 19th century due to changes in farming practices and hunting of birds on migration around the Mediterranean. Thrives in many of the same kinds of farmland habitat as the Grey Partridge, including fields and shore meadows, but avoids forest margins and scrub. Present Finnish population estimated at just 100–500 pairs.
  • Migration: By night. Flies south from October, returning June–July (occasionally seen in May) after wintering in Africa.
  • Diet: Shoots, seeds, other parts of plants, and small invertebrates (insects, snails and slugs).
  • Calls: Presence most often revealed by mating call “bit-bi-bit” performed repeatedly 3–8 times with intervals of about a second around dusk or during the night. Calls typically loud and whistling.
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected in Finland. Globally Least concern.

Quails are very small, plump gallinaceous birds that are almost impossible to spot. They are sandy brown in colouring with pale streaks. Their heads particularly have striped markings and males have small black bibs. They appear rounded and almost tailless. Their legs are pale yellowish or reddish brown. Their beaks are pale brown and their irises are yellowish brown.
In flight, Quails may be confused with Corncrakes, but their wings lack reddish brown colouring.

Other species from the same family

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