Quail small, plump, dove-sized birds of the family Phasianidae, order Galliformes. They are almost tailless, 15-20 cm in length and 120-150 g in weight.
There are about 18 species of quail worldwide, 5-6 species occur in this subcontinent. Bangladesh has at least two species, Coturnix coromandelica and Turnix tanki. Both species are now domesticated and only rarely seen in wild in the Chittagong Hill Forests. Another exotic species, the Japanese quail Coturnix coturnix japonica is also being reared in Bangladesh.
Quail is popular for meat and egg production in different parts of the world. It is recognized as an economic poultry-bird for its faster growth rate, early sexual maturity and high rate of egg production. Moreover, the bird is highly disease resistant and requires less floor space for maintenance. Quails begin to lay eggs at about 6-7 weeks of age and can lay 200-250 eggs annually, each weighing 8-12 g. The females of domestic varieties do not incubate their eggs and therefore, eggs are incubated in incubators. Eggs hatch within 17-18 days. The young reaches to maturity in about 6-7 weeks.
In wild these birds usually keep in pairs, but large number may concentrate in fields where food is plentiful. Their flight is swift and direct, at a stretch however, they can fly only up to several hundred metres. [SM Humayun Kabir]