COMMON QUAIL (Coturnix coturnix)
One of three true quail (Coturnix) species occurring in South Africa.
Common Quail are small, rather indistinctive gamebirds with a mottled brown, hunchbacked appearance, whose most distinguishing characteristic is probably the sudden flush and low, rapid flight pattern often accompanied by high-pitched, short whistles. Males are normally distinguished from females by a black or dark brown throat with a dark-brown to black centre mark as opposed to the females, which have a light-brown to white throat and indistinct or absent brown or black mark. The brown to buff-coloured breast and abdomen of the male is diagnostic to distinguish it from the other male quail species.
Common Quail occur throughout most of Africa and are widespread throughout South Africa. They can be found in a variety of habitats but tend to avoid densely wooded areas, favouring open or light to medium wooded grasslands of medium height and density. Cultivated fields with low-growing crops and pastures, not too densely planted, such as manna, wheat or clover, as well as fallow lands, often attract large numbers of quail. They avoid dense, moribund grassland, overgrazed farms and frequently burnt areas.