Coturnix chinensis
600 - 2 000 rub.

King quail, orButton quail, or Chinese painted quail, or Chun-chi, or Asian blue quail (Coturnix chinensis)

Phylum —chordata
Class — aves
Order — galliformes
Family —phasianidae

Genus – coturnix


These quail are 12.5 cm to 14 cm long and they weigh 28 to 40 g. The female is larger than the male. Wing length is 65 to 78 mm for males and 66 to 67 mm for females. For males, tail length is approximately 25 mm. Tail length for females is slightly longer.

The natural color of the male is dark brown with a slate blue-gray breast, dark rust-colored to chestnut-red belly, black throat patch surrounded by a white band and bordered by a black stripe, and black eye stripe. There may be lighter shades of brown evident throughout or within the wing feathers in a mottled pattern. The female does not retain the blue-gray breast, dark rust to chestnut-red belly, or the black markings of the male. She has an overall brown color with rust-brown abdomen and breast. Both males and females have black beaks, yellow to orange-colored legs and feet, and a short, dark brown tail.

In captivity, many color variations have been bred. The most widely known is the silver phase. Other colors include, white (non-albino), varying brown tones, and mottled silver-gray.


King quail and their subspecies are found in India, Sri Lanka, southeast China, Taiwan, Hainan Island, southeast Asia (including Thailand, Myanmar, and Viet Nam), the Philippines, Nicobar Islands, Sumatra, Borneo and Sarawak, Java, the Celebes, Lombok, Sumba, Flores, Timor Islands, New Guinea, north to southeastern Australia, and as far east as Madagascar.


King quail may be found in pairs, and at other times, in coveys. When in close contact, males are aggressive toward each other.

These quail walk with a crouched posture and rapid nodding movements of their heads. When they sense a threat, they will crouch down to touch the ground and utter a high-pitched, rapid peeping call. The chestnut-red under the tail is visible. This is known as the alarm crouch and call. When they want to be the aggressor, the quail will crouch slightly, with head held low and beak pointing a bit upward. In this position, none of the chestnut-red colored feathers are visible.

Button quail stay clean by dust-bathing. They are non-perching birds that are infrequent flyers, moving about mostly on the ground. They are more likely to be heard than seen and are difficult to flush from cover.


King quail mostly eat a variety of grass seeds, including red, white and yellow millet, maw and rape seeds. They will also eat fresh greens and other vegetation. In limited amounts, they will also consume small worms and insects, including termites. When living in captivity, females require additional calcium in the form of ground up oyster shell or cuttlefish mantle.


The males will fight for the right to mate with the females. The winner will then breed every female. Females can then develop and lay an egg within one to two days of being bred. They will either build a nest or lay anywhere on the ground. Females usually only go broody when they have collected an ideal clutch size. Clutch size varies anywhere from 5 to 13 eggs. Before incubation starts all the eggs composing the clutch will be laid. In captivity, the ideal number of eggs in a clutch is 6 to 8. The chicks hatch after about 16 days.

In captivity

The King quails are very hardy, active and long-lived birds. On average they can live up to 13 years in captivity.

Being predominantly ground dwelling, quail need plenty of space to run around so care should be taken not to overpopulate an aviary. In general, an aviary of 2 meters long and about 1.5 meters wide should cater for one pair of quail. At least half of the roof should be covered to offer protection and at least one wall should be made of solid material. A double door will help to stop these very fast birds from escaping as you walk into the aviary with food and water.

Place a few upturned wooden crates or polystyrene boxes with holes in at the back of the aviary for them to escape into and hollow logs or large pipe for them to hide in.  Include a dried bunch of branches for them to nestle amongst or perhaps some potted plants of bamboo or grasses.  If the aviary floor is concrete, cover it with layer of clean dry sand and, to mimic a forest floor, spread dry leaves and grasses over part of it. Quail do not bath in water but prefer to dust bathe in the sand on the floor or in a shallow dish.

The wire on the aviary should be made of mouse proof wire which has 7mm gaps or a solid material such as flat galvanized sheet metal. Care needs to be especially taken if baby quail are in an aviary as they are very small and move quickly so check the gaps around doors and add a second barrier if necessary – they can easily run through the 13mm wire often seen on cages.  In a large aviary, it is a good idea to restrict the babies to a part of the cage so that they don’t get lost or stuck in bad weather.

Although part of the roof may have protection, it is important to offer extra protection in winter. Flying birds can huddle on the upper perches but quail do not have this option so temporary walls and roofing may be needed to keep them dry and out of draughts.

Quail can take off vertically when frightened causing them injury so when transporting them, use a box with less height and attach a thick foam or rubber lining to the inside of the roof.  Quail can fly although not long distances or as well as other birds and if startled they will tend to take off at steep angles often hitting the roof or a wall at great speed. Although it’s not necessary in all breeds, wing feather clipping can reduce the potential of this problem and also stop them from disturbing the other birds that may be nesting.

A good quality finch or small parrot mix provides just about everything that quail need but they do also enjoy insects, some vegetables, seeding grass and pre-mix soft foods.

During breeding season, place a sod of soil into the aviary every few days which will provide live food, greens and minerals or offer some mealworms or commercially raised cockroaches. They will also benefit from the grits and calcium often supplied to other aviary birds.

Quail scratch their food like chickens which can result in it being scattered, uneaten, onto the floor. To avoid this, use a deeper food bowl making sure that even the youngsters can still get in and out of it.

It is important not to make quail survive on the discarded seed from the elevated platforms used for other flying birds in the aviary. Quail eat the whole seed but most other birds remove the seed husk and eat the de-husked part, discarding the rest. It may look like there is enough seed on the floor but in actual fact it is just empty seed husks.

Quails need plenty of access to clean water in a shallow dish but be careful not to place the dish under a perch that may be higher up to avoid other birds from defecating in it. If there are chicks in the aviary place some clean pebbles or stones in the bowl to give them a safe spot and to prevent them from drowning.