King quail

The smallest of all Galliformes lives on the ground, camouflaged from predators

André Karwath

A small ground-dwelling bird that is part of the Old World quail family. They are native to Australia, Southeast Asia, and parts of South Asia and are also known as the Blue-breasted quail, Asian Blue quail, and Chinese Painted quail. King quails have become popular birds in aviculture due to their colorful plumage and manageable size.

Males of this species are particularly striking with their vivid coloration. They typically have rich chestnut-brown plumage with a blue-bronze breast and a white face mask, which contrasts with the more cryptically colored females. The females are usually a uniform brown tone, providing them with excellent camouflage against the forest floor where they forage and nest. This dimorphism is common in many bird species, where males are more brightly colored to attract females and compete with other males, while females remain inconspicuous to protect themselves and their nests from predators.

Selective breeding in captivity has led to the development of various color mutations, including silver, gold, and pied varieties. This selective breeding does not only aim for aesthetic purposes but sometimes to study genetics and the inheritance of certain traits.

King quails are ground dwellers, preferring habitats with dense grass or undergrowth where they can find cover from predators. Despite having the ability to fly, they are predominantly terrestrial birds that will take flight only as a last resort to escape danger. Their flight is typically short and erratic, which helps them quickly vanish into dense vegetation.

While King quails have a relatively long lifespan in captivity, with proper care, they can live from 3 to 6 years, and sometimes as long as 13 years. However, in the wild, their lifespan is considerably shorter, averaging around 1.5 years due to predation and environmental pressures.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Australia
2016
Brunei
2016
Cambodia
2016
China
2016
East Timor
2016
Guam
2016
Introduced
India
2016
Indonesia
2016
Laos
2016
Malaysia
2016
Myanmar
2016
Nepal
2016
Papua New Guinea
2016
Philippines
2016
Singapore
2016
Sri Lanka
2016
Taiwan
2016
Thailand
2016
Vietnam
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No