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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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(vertebrate zoology)
Any of several migratory game birds in the family Phasianidae.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005