Quail, small migratory birds, are found throughout the world. They are popular among game hunters and commonly bred for sale to restaurants, grocery stores, gun dog training facilities and hunting preserves. Pharaoh quail and bobwhite quail are two types commonly found both in the wild and on game preserves. There are several key differences between the pharaoh and the bobwhite that assist in identifying each species.
Pharaoh quail have had many names over the centuries. They are depicted on murals of the ancient Egyptians and have been called bible quail, emperor quail, Mediterranean quail, holy land quail, German quail, Japanese quail, coturnix and common quail. Bobwhite quail are divided into several classifications, each with slightly different characteristics or habitats, including northern, eastern, Tennessee red, tuxedo, silver, white and blond bobwhite quail.
Pharaoh Quail Characteristics
Like all quail, pharaoh quail are small, plump birds with short, stout beaks and powerful legs. Female pharaoh quail, at 4 to 5 1/2 ounces, are larger than male pharaoh quail which weigh 3 1/2 to 5 ounces. The males have red-brown feathers on their throats and breasts. They begin crowing at five to six weeks old and crow all night during mating season. The females are similar to the males in appearance, though females have longer, pointed breast feathers that are a lighter cream in color and typically striped with black or brown. The brown coloration helps pharaoh quail hide from hunters and predators.
Bobwhite Quail Characteristics
Weighing in at 6-7 ounces, bobwhite quail are larger than pharaoh quail. They share the powerful legs and short, stout beaks of the pharaoh quail but differ in coloration. The bobwhite is mainly reddish brown with mottled black and white spots and a gray tail. The males have white stripes on the throat and running from the bill, across the eyes and to the back of the head. These white stripes, alternating with the bird's darker feathers, give the appearance of a black collar. Females are similar, though with brown stripes rather than white. Bobwhite quail use their mottled coloration as camouflage when hiding from predators.
Feeding and Habitat
Bobwhite quail forage for seeds and fruit. They also eat leafy plants and insects. The live in forests, woods, fields and near cropland. Bobwhite quail prefer to eat early in the morning and tend to stay close to their roosts, traveling no more than a half mile from home while foraging each day. Pharaoh quail do not retain such an attachment to their home territory. When food supplies run low, pharaoh quail families split up and leave in search of a better sources of food.