Other names: Grey
Quail, Pectoral Quail.
Distribution and Habitat
In the wild state, Stubble
Quail are highly nomadic and the population in any one area can
fluctuate widely depending on the rainfall that area has received.
They are common in eastern and south-eastern Australia and coastal
southern region of West Australia and present in lesser numbers
in central Australia, the Kimberleys, Northern Territory and Queensland.
Stubble Quail prefer open
grassland areas, more open then that adopted by the Brown Quail.
They have adapted to stubble, cereal and lucerne crops and
pastures but can also be found in native grasslands, saltbush or
Their diet consists of seeds,
green grasses, insects, caterpillars and small frogs. In cultivated areas, these birds prefer the seeds of introduced
species of plants, including those considered weeds in crop pastures
but in dry inland areas, seeds of native grasses are eaten. Although the numbers of Stubble Quail in some locations have
increased secondary to clearing of woodlands and crop cultivation,
much of their habitat has been destroyed by sheep and rabbits, so
that overall numbers may not have increased. Ii is still the most
common of the native quail in the wild and is hunted at certain
times of the year.
When disturbed, they will
first try to escape by running through cover, only flushing it desperate.
They fly with a loud whirring of wings, just above the grass for
approximately 50m, then drop to the ground and continue running.
It is difficult to flush them twice.
The adult Stubble Quail is
18 to 18.5cm in length, with the female usually being slightly larger
than the male (as it common in the Coturnix
genus). The sexes are easy to distinguish.
Both sexes are dark brown
above with pale buff markings.
The centre of each feather has a cream stripe running down
it, giving the plumage a streaked appearance.
In the male, the sides of the face and throat are light chestnut;
in the female the throat is white and the sides of the face and
neck ate pale buff with darker spots.
In both sexes the feathers of the head and nape are black
with buff tips and there is a white eyebrow and white line through
the centre of the head. In
the male the chest has a prominent black pattern with the rest of
the chest and abdomen being white with a black central streak. The hen lacks the black chest patch, having a paler buff coloured
chest with darker markings through it.
Both sexes have a red-brown iris, black bill and flesh coloured
legs and feet.
A three syllable clear whistle or a sharp clear "too-wheep".
The nesting season starts
in September, hence the first broods usually hatch in October. The season extends into February with some late broods hatching
in March. Breeding
is heavily influenced by the amount of rainfall and in the inland
of Australia, breeding can occur well into autumn.
The nest is usually made in thick cover and consists of a
scrape in the ground lined with grass.
In this the hen lays usually 7 to 8 (occasionally as many
as 14 have been found) pale yellow or light brown eggs, with dark
brown blotches which she alone incubates for 18 days.
The chicks are a buff colour with dark stripes running down
the flanks and down the centre of the back
Stubble Quail tend to be
shy birds and will look for cover as soon as anyone approaches the
aviary. It is therefore
best to keep them in a largish well planted aviary.
Spinifex grass or Johnson grass is well suited for providing
shelter. It the aviary
isn't planted, it is important to provide them with an area of cover
that they can get into or behind.
Brush or hay stacked in the corner, stuffed with finer grasses
provides good shelter. I have found that, with cover provided plus
patience and bribery with plenty of mealworms, the birds will gradually
become less timid. Young
birds treated with daily live food and other tit-bits can become
quite tame. If your
birds are particularly flighty, it is advisable to clip a wing until
they settle down to prevent birds hitting the roof of the aviary
and scalping or even killing themselves.
In captivity the breeding
season extends from September to January or February.
They tend to lay more eggs than wild birds; usual nests consist
of ten or so eggs but up to 15 may be laid. Eggs are laid at 48
hour intervals. Some
hens may lay numerous eggs around the aviary, similar to some King
Quail hens. This may
reflect inadequate or unsuitable cover for the hen to hide her nest
Although Stubble Quail have
been known to raise young successfully on dry seed alone, green
food should be provided (they seem especially fond of seeding grasses)
and live food will be appreciated.
The Stubble Quail is a relatively
cheap and very attractive addition to an aviary. They are generally quiet birds, require little special attention
and can breed freely if given the right conditions. Unfortunately
they have never been a high profile bird and are currently only
kept by a very small number of aviculturists.