Male has a black to russet coloured throat compared with
the white throat of Harlequin quail and
the female Blue quail, and the
black-and-white patterned throat of the male Blue quail. Female has pale
underparts with a whitish-coloured belly, compared with the more uniform and
darker chestnut-coloured breast and belly of the female Harlequin quail.
The longitudinally streaked underparts of the female distinguish it from the
barred underparts of female Blue quail. Immature Common and Harlequin quail are
evidently difficult to distinguish and I will not try to do so here without
Distribution and habitat
A broad distribution over Eurasia, India, Atlantic islands,
Africa and Madagascar. Widely distributed in Africa in most regions where there
is grass, or fields and crops. Movements are influenced by rainfall
Nest is made by the female and is a scrape in the
ground, lined with grass and rootlets and hidden away in dense
Breeding season (laying dates): virtually any time of
year, usually after or during good rains.
Female lays 2-14 eggs, one per day, after which she
incubates them for 17-20 days before they hatch.
Chicks leave nest usually within a day of hatching and
are cared for and fed by the female for the first four days or so,
after which they feed independently. After 11 days they can start to fly,
after 19-21 days they have developed full flight, and after 30 days they are
full grown. The male, female and chicks stay as a family for 30-50 days
Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts
- Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker
Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.
Sinclair, I, Hockey, P. and Tarboton, W. 2002. Sasol
Birds of Southern Africa. 3rd edition. Struik, Cape Town.
Text by Hamish Robertson
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