[order] Galliformes | [family] Phasianidae | [latin] Coturnix coturnix | [UK] Quail | [FR] Caille des blÚs | [DE] Wachtel-coturnix | [ES] Codorniz europea-coturnix | [IT] Quaglia comune | [NL] Kwartel

Kwartel determination

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In spring and summer throughout continental and (less regularly) oceanic middle latitudes of west Palearctic, from margin of boreal through cool and warm temperate to steppe and Mediterranean zones, generally avoiding extremes of heat or cold, aridity or humidity, and exposure to strong winds. Prefers wide open spaces, with level or undulating landforms and normally clear of trees and bushes, up to 1000 m and occasionally much higher. Stops short of snow, ice, or persistent frost, and prefers drier, sunnier aspects on light, well-drained sandy, chalky, or peaty soils. Chooses seasonally dense, moist but not wet herbage, tall enough for complete concealment, but normally not growing as high as 1 m, and usually clear of hedgerows or forest edge. Has adapted well to large cultivated fields, especially of winter wheat and clover. Similar natural vegetation (e.g. Molinia grassland) also favoured, as well as meadows and meadow-like wild grasslands such as steppes. On migration, occurs along coasts, and even on fairly small marine islands, as well as in other atypical situations such as desert fringes and oases.

Quails are generally found in drier areas, in open fields with small bushes where they take cover and under which they look for the seeds and small insects that they feed on.

Coturnix coturnix is a widespread summer visitor to much of Europe, which accounts for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is very large (>2,800,000 pairs) and fluctuates, but underwent a large decline during 1970-1990, especially in central and eastern Europe. Although the species increased in northern and central Europe during 1990-2000, declines continued in south-eastern Europe, and the total population size probably remains below the level that preceded its decline. Consequently, it is provisionally evaluated as Depleted.
This bird inhabits a major part of Europe and Asia, from the Iberian Peninsula and the British Isles to northern India and China. It is also breeding in northern, eastern and southern Africa. The European populations are wintering in North Africa and the Sahel region. The population of the European Union is totalling 400000-800000 breeding pairs. It is strongly fluctuating, and its trends are often difficult to notice. Overall it seems to be definitely decreasing however. This decline is largely due to agricultural intensification, disappearance of uncultivated areas and widespread use of pesticides. It is also subject to a strong hunting pressure in some Mediterranean regions and is badly affected by the increasing Sahel drought. These facts mainly affect the long-distance migrants from central and Eastern Europe, much less the birds of France and Spain wintering in north-western Africa

Omnivorous: mainly fallen seeds (predominantly of field weeds and gleanings of cereals) and invertebrates (chiefly insects) found on ground by using feet and beak to scratch and scrape.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km▓. It has a large global population, including an estimated 5,500,000-9,400,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified; there is evidence of a population decline, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

The nest is built by the female in a shallow hollow lined with some vegetation, well-hidden among shrubs and grasses. Just one clutch of 7 to 12 eggs is laid annually. Only the female sits on the eggs and hatching takes two to three weeks. The female then looks after the chicks which very soon start to fly and pick at the ground in search of food. It is believed that the male mates with several females during the same nesting season.

Majority of West Palearctic breeding birds believed to winter South of Sahara, mainly in Sahel zone, but some winter as far North as British Islands and Germany, and with some regularity around Mediterranean. Birds of these populations do not seem to cross over equatorial forest, migration routes believed to vary individually, and from year to year. Birds that winter in Central & South India believed to migrate through Pakistan, before dispersing throughout Indian Subcontinent. South African birds may move North to winter in Angola, Zaire, Namibia and Zambia, where species is probably non-breeding-visitor.