When one sees the brilliant colours of this bird you cannot believe that the common quail is one of the most secretive of all the savannah birds and is more often heard than seen. Shy and wary, the quail spends most of its life among dense cover. Reluctant to fly even when disturbed, it usually goes unnoticed unless flushed from hiding. Startled in this way, a quail springs suddenly into the air, often giving a low trilling call. It flies fast and low before dropping down into cover, effectively melting from view. If you keep tabs on the spot where the bird landed, you may sneak up on it and get a small opportunity to photograph it, but this strategy requires immense patience as one often misses seeing the bird until it is flushed again virtually from under your feet.
I have never had a decent opportunity to photograph this species, most often getting poor quality shots of a bird departing the scene! That is until this male bird got hoodwinked by the Roberts VII sound bytes into performing a close-up inspection. Being in full breeding regalia, it is easy to understand the bird’s curiosity affording me this magnificent chance to take some good shots of it.
It actually occurs in abundance within its range with the South African polulation estimated to be over 10 million birds!
Quails can have large broods with up to a dozen of more chicks. It is one of the most endearing sights in nature if you chance upon a number of chicks being led by its parent across an open patch.
Staple foods include seeds of grasses, cereals and weeds, but the quail also eats beetles, bugs, ants, earwigs and grasshoppers, as well as spiders, snails and worms.