It’s a chicken… No, it’s a quail!


My new office assistant


On Friday I got a call about a chicken that was found in a forest preserve. I asked the person how big, what it looked like, what size the comb was. “Well, it’s brown with markings, and it doesn’t have a comb.”

Hmmm… I decided that was not a chicken! When he brought the bird over, and it was a lovely little Japanese coturnix quail hen!

About Coturnix

The word coturnix is Latin, and the Spanish word for quail is codorniz, which is derived by regular sound change (sorry, I had to work in linguistics!). Japanese coturnix quail are not indigenous to the United States, so wildlife rescues will not take them.

I used to hatch them when I was growing up. Incubation takes 17 days, and the chicks hatch all at once – you lift the incubator lid, and it looks like black and tan popcorn! The chicks have black and tan “racing stripes” – very appropriate since the babies are very fast and very high energy! They will sometimes trample each other, so they need ample room in a brooder box. Weak or slow chicks should be removed from the box that holds the lively ones until they are “up to speed.”

Coturnix are raised for their eggs and meat, which are considered gourmet. You can read more about coturnix here and see pictures of eggs and babies here and here.

Back to the Quail…

Her back end had the feathers torn off, as if she’d been run over by a mower or caught by a dog. The skin was fine, and the feathers were growing back. As I was carrying her in, tucked against my chest, she started making these little contented quail noises. She was cooing!

I examined her away from the parakeets to prevent spread of disease and noticed that her eyes were rheumy looking and irritated; she had been scratching them. I put antibiotic ophthalmic ointment on them and washed my hands thoroughly. She was not lice infested and was eating and drinking well, so I put her in my bird carrying cage.


The little quail loves to snuggle in my arm as I work on the computer!


She loves to snuggle in the crook of my arms as I work at the computer and make little happy quail noises! We’re going for a vet check-up on Wednesday.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lesley W on May 9, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    You are quite the little rescuer. How cool. I knew nothing about quails. I know I like to eat their eggs, though I don’t know if the were Corturnix. When I was in Irael years back, quail eggs were common at breakfast and buffets. I got quite the appetite for them.

    I had never thought that quails would coo and like to cuddle. How cute.

    People still don’t believe me when I tell them that my iguana liked to cuddle, well it was more like sitting on my shoulder.

    Keep up the good work!


  2. Posted by JMA on May 11, 2010 at 6:15 am

    It’s true…this quail snuggles! I felt like I was holding a kitten!


  3. Posted by Alison on May 12, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Awww, how sweet of a rescue and a double awwww for quail snuggling.


  4. Posted by Betsy C on May 13, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Jen, So adorable! What a lucky quail to have ended up with you 🙂


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