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Common quail

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Common quail
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Scientific classification
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This page is a soft redirect. Coturnix coturnix
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The common quail (Coturnix coturnix) is a small bird in the pheasant family Phasianidae. It is widespread and is found in parts of Europe; it should not be confused with the domesticated Japanese quail, Coturnix japonica, native to Asia which although visually similar have very distinct calls.

Description

It is a small, round bird, essentially streaked brown with a white eyestripe, and, in the male, a white chin. As befits its migratory nature, it has long wings, unlike the typically short-winged gamebirds. It measures roughly Script error: No such module "convert". and weighs Script error: No such module "convert".[2]

Habits

This is a terrestrial species, feeding on seeds and insects on the ground. It is notoriously difficult to see, keeping hidden in crops, and reluctant to fly, preferring to creep away instead. Even when flushed, it keeps low and soon drops back into cover. Often the only indication of its presence is the distinctive "wet-my-lips" repetitive song of the male. The call is uttered mostly in the mornings, evenings and sometimes at night. It is a strongly migratory bird, unlike most game birds.

Breeding

Upon attaining an age of 6–8 weeks, this quail breeds on open arable farmland and grassland across most of Europe and Asia, laying 6-12 eggs in a ground nest. The eggs take from 16–18 days to hatch.

Races

This species was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 as Tetrao coturnix.[3] The Eurasian race, C. c. coturnix, overwinters southwards in Africa's Sahel and India. The populations on Madeira and the Canary Islands belong to the nominate race. The African race, C. c. africana, described by Temminck and Schlegel, in 1849, is known as the African quail. It overwinters within Africa, some moving northwards from South Africa. The common quails of Madagascar and the Comoros belong to the same African race, although those found around Ethiopia make up a different subspecies, the Abyssinian quail, C. c. erlangeri (Zedlitz, 1912). The fairly numerous[4] population of the Cape Verde islands, belong to a separate race, C. c. inopinata, (described by Hartert in 1917), while those on the Azores belong to race C. c. conturbans (Hartert, 1920)

Utilization

Exodus 16:1-13 relates how the migrating Israelites asked God for meat and were provided with a massive flock of migrating quail. It is still heavily hunted as game on passage through the Mediterranean area. This species over recent years has seen an increase in its propagation in the United States and Europe. However, most of this increase is with hobbyists.

In 1537, Queen Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII, pregnant with the future King Edward VI, developed an insatiable craving for quail, and courtiers and diplomats abroad were ordered to find sufficient supplies for the Queen.

Gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Coturnix coturnix". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Hume, A.O.; Marshall, C.H.T. (1880). Game Birds of India, Burmah and Ceylon. Volume II. Calcutta: A.O. Hume and C.H.T. Marshall. p. 148. 
  3. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. (in Latina). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 161. T. pedibus nudis, corpore griseo-maculate, supercilií albis, rectricibus margine lunulaque ferruginea. 
  4. ^ E. Krabbe, 2003[full citation needed]

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