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common name for a variety of small game birds related to the partridge, pheasant, and more distantly to the grouse. There are three subfamilies in the quail family: the New World quails; the Old World quails and partridges; and the true pheasants and seafowls. No species of New World quail is migratory, but some Old World quail represent the only migratory species of the order. The migratory quail of Eurasia has been known for its phenomenal migrations since biblical times. Quails have high reproductive potentials, with 12 to 15 eggs laid per clutch. The nests are built on the ground in vegetation. The female does the major portion of incubation and rearing. Quails are extremely popular game birds. The Old World quail has never been naturalized in America; in the central and S United States the bobwhitebobwhite,
common name for an American henlike bird of the family Phasianidae, which also includes the pheasant and the partridge. The eastern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) is about 10 in. (25 cm) long.
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, Colinus virginianus, is commonly called quail (or partridge). The helmet and plumed quails, named for their crests, the Gambel's quail, and the valley and scaled quails are all western birds. They eat harmful insects and seeds and travel in flocks called coveys. Quails are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Galliformes, family Phasianidae.



(Coturnix coturnix), a bird of the family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes. The quail is 16–20 cm long and weighs 80–145 g. The brown back has light and dark spots and stripes; the jugulum is reddish and, in the female, has mottled markings. The quail is distributed in Europe, Africa, and Asia; in the USSR it is found eastward to Lake Baikal. It inhabits fields, plains, and mountains. The bird winters in Africa and southwestern Asia. The nests are built on the ground. A clutch contains nine to 15 eggs, which are incubated by the female for 15 to 17 days. Quail feed primarily on vegetable substances, including seeds, buds, and young sprouts; less commonly they eat insects. It has been found that inorganic fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture have poisoned quail, resulting in a rapid decline in their number. The birds formerly were hunted during autumn migrations in the Crimea and the Caucasus. In Middle Asia, quail are kept in cages as “fighting birds” and songbirds. They have a loud, steady call.

A closely related species, C. japonicus, is found in the USSR east of Lake Baikal. It is bred domestically and on large farms for meat and eggs. Quail raising as a branch of the poultry industry originated in the 1950’s in Japan, where 700,000 to 800,000 birds for slaughter and several million eggs are now produced annually. As a result of selective breeding, strains have been developed for high egg production and have been exported to numerous countries. In the USSR, quail raising is conducted on specialized farms and at a number of kolkhozes and sovkhozes. The quail are kept in cages and fed dry rations, and the eggs are incubated. Hybrid breeds begin to lay eggs at age 35 to 40 days, producing 250 to 300 eggs annually. The eggs weigh 8–14 g; carcasses weigh 100–120 g.


(vertebrate zoology)
Any of several migratory game birds in the family Phasianidae.


1. any small Old World gallinaceous game bird of the genus Coturnix and related genera, having a rounded body and small tail: family Phasianidae (pheasants)
2. any of various similar and related American birds, such as the bobwhite
References in classic literature ?
Streaming files of wild ducks began to make their appearance high in the air; the bark of the squirrel might be heard from the groves of beech and hickory- nuts, and the pensive whistle of the quail at intervals from the neighboring stubble field.
Putting aside the terrifying thought of our impending doom--for the bravest man on earth might well quail from such a fate as awaited us, and I never made any pretensions to be brave--the /silence/ itself was too great to allow of it.
The quick vision that his life was after all a failure, that he was a dishonored man, and must quail before the glance of those towards whom he had habitually assumed the attitude of a reprover--that God had disowned him before men and left him unscreened to the triumphant scorn of those who were glad to have their hatred justified--the sense of utter futility in that equivocation with his conscience in dealing with the life of his accomplice, an equivocation which now turned venomously upon him with the full-grown fang of a discovered lie:-- all this rushed through him like the agony of terror which fails to kill, and leaves the ears still open to the returning wave of execration.
The servants were a little discouraged, but soon they brought in a great tray containing two dozen nicely roasted quail on toast.
I'm not -- and when I think of that horrible paper tomorrow I quail.
There was a wild chorus of warning cries from the women, who scurried out of the grass houses, and like frightened quail dived over the opposite edge of the clearing, gathering up their babies and children as they ran.
And to complete it all his horse stumbled upon several large broods of half-grown quail, and the air was filled with the thrum of their flight.
He came to know the ground-nesting birds and the difference between the customs of the valley quail, the mountain quail, and the pheasants.
Out in the back-pasture, a quail could flutter up under his nose unharmed.
My stomach used to quail within me, in those times, when the tureen was taken off and the inevitable gravy-soup smell renewed its daily acquaintance with my nostrils, and warned me of the persistent eatable formalities that were certain to follow.
Foxes, as you know, are fond of chicken and other fowl; so they served chicken soup and roasted turkey and stewed duck and fried grouse and broiled quail and goose pie, and as the cooking was excellent the King's guests enjoyed the meal and ate heartily of the various dishes.
I am fond of solitude and love the night, so my resolution to "camp out" was soon taken, and by the time that it was dark I had made my bed of boughs and grasses in a corner of the room and was roasting a quail at a fire that I had kindled on the hearth.