Common Quail/Coturnix coturnix - Adult

Common Quail/Coturnix coturnix - Photographer: Борис Белчев
Common Quail/Coturnix coturnix - Photographer: Илиян Вълчанов
Common Quail/Coturnix coturnix - Photographer: Валентин Почекански
Common Quail/Coturnix coturnix - Photographer: Чавдар Гечев

L 16-18 cm. Breeds on open farmland, drawn to vast plains with clover pasture and young corn fields. Warmth-loving; winters in Africa. Heavily hunted on passage in Mediterranean region. In warm springs quite a number of night-flying migrants ‘overshoot’ their destination and end up farther N, when far more than usual heard calling in May/Jun. Nests on ground, often in crops; clutch 8-13.
IDENTIFICATION: Often heard but rarely seen; keeps well hidden, reluctant to fly by day. Very small, like a rather small Pheasant chick, which it somewhat resembles in plumage: buff-brown with dark brown markings above and on breast and head, and with narrow whitish streaks above and on flanks. male is black on centre of throat (extent variable, often just a narrow band, thus best judged in front view), female is dirty white. If you do flush a Quail, or see a raptor do so, it looks unexpectedly long-winged, different from other gallinaceous birds; wingbeats fast, flightpath low and direct; quickly drops back into cover.
VOICE: When flushed, a wader-like soft, rolling ‘wrree’. Song, mainly at dusk and daybreak (but also at other times of day), a rhythmic, trisyllabic phrase rapidly (1 per sec.) repeated 3-8 times: a sharp whistle, far-carrying, with stress on first and last syllables and with the final two syllables close together, ‘büt bül-üt’ (‘wet-my-lips’); close to, a throaty mechanical secondary note (roughly as that of Spotted Crake) is audible; sometimes also a few muffled, nasal, creaky ‘mau-wau’ introductory notes. (Only confusion risk is distant Curlew, whose ‘vi-vi-vü’ alarm-call may be heard at night in same habitat in early summer.)

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