California quail (Callipepla californica).—© William H. Mullins, The National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers

Any of several species of short-tailed game birds (family Phasianidae), some with a head plume that is straight or curled forward. Species range from 5 to 13 in. (13–33 cm) long. Some of the 95 Old World species have leg spurs, but the 36 New World species never do. Quails prefer open country and brushy borders. The male may help incubate the 12 eggs. Quails mainly eat seeds and berries but also leaves, roots, and insects. The common quail (Coturnix coturnix) of Eurasia and Africa is the only migratory bird in the order Galliformes. Quails are generally smaller than partridges. See also bobwhite.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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