Synoicus – Old World quails

Genus of the smallest true quail having ground-dwelling, migratory birds widely distributed

These quails are distinct from the New World quails found in the Americas and are primarily native to Europe, Asia, Africa, and parts of Australia. Their size and coloration are variable across different species within the genus, with some displaying brown, blue, and black plumage while others exhibit more striking silver and maroon hues. These color variations are fascinating from a biological perspective and provide the birds with essential camouflage in their natural habitats.

The preferred environments of Old World quails are typically associated with wet grasslands and shrubs, often near water bodies. These habitats provide the quails with the cover and food resources they need to thrive. They are usually observed in small groups known as coveys, and their diet is omnivorous but leans heavily on plant material. They forage on the ground, consuming a variety of vegetation, succulent fruits, and seeds, which constitute a major part of their diet. This diet is rich in nutrients and supports their health and breeding capabilities.

When it comes to reproduction, Old World quails exhibit interesting behaviors. The dwarf quails, for instance, build their nests on the ground, carefully hidden among grass or underbrush to protect them from predators. The chicks of these quails are precocial, meaning they are relatively mature and mobile shortly after hatching. This adaptive trait allows them to follow their parents and learn foraging skills early on.

One notable aspect of their breeding behavior is the division of parental duties. After the chicks are two weeks old, the male takes over their care, which frees the female to begin incubating the next clutch of eggs. This strategy increases the chances of successful breeding within a single season, allowing for multiple broods.

In captivity, Old World quails can live longer than their wild counterparts due to the absence of predators and the provision of a stable food supply and medical care. This fact highlights the impact of environmental stressors on the lifespan of wild quails.