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New World Quails: Odontophoridae

Behavior And Reproduction

Nearly every species of New World quail forms coveys (KUH-veez; small flocks). Though experts once thought coveys were family units, it is now believed that covey members are adult pairs as well as helpers from previous clutches (number of birds hatched at one time).

These birds are most active during the day and spend the majority of their time on the ground. Some forest species roost (rest) in trees. Although none of these quail are migratory (travel seasonally from region to region), those that live in mountain regions may move to different altitudes with the seasons.

New World quails call and whistle to each other, with the bobwhite having the most varied calling habits. Predators include birds of prey, weasels, and foxes. Skunks, raccoons, snakes, coyotes, and possums prey on quail eggs.

Reproduction of the quail has not been studied in depth. Though they were once believed to be monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus; have only one mate), evidence is proving that theory wrong. At least with the bobwhite, it seems the mating system is flexible, and the birds alternate between monogamy, polygyny (puh-LIH-juh-nee; one male to several females), polyandry (PAH-lee-an-dree; one female to several males), and promiscuity (prah-MISS-kyoo-ih-tee; indiscrimate mating where individuals mate with as many other individuals as they want).

Clutch size varies with the species, with tropical and forest birds having smaller clutches of three to six eggs. Nests are bowl-like and built on the ground. Sometimes vegetation is used to cover the nest for safety purposes. Though not well described for many species, incubation (warmth sufficient for hatching) takes sixteen to thirty days. Chicks are able to leave the nest within hours of hatching and begin to fly in less than two weeks. Twenty to fifty percent of all chicks die from predation.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsNew World Quails: Odontophoridae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Northern Bobwhite Quail (colinus Virginianus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, NEW WORLD QUAILS AND PEOPLE