Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix)


French: Caille des blés German: Wachtel Spanish: Codorniz común
Other common names: Eurasian Quail (coturnix), African Quail (africana)

Tetrao Coturnix


, 1758,

Europe, Asia, Africa = Sweden


Closely related to C. japonica, and possibly also to C. pectoralis. Records from NW Bangladesh normally ascribed to present species (nominate coturnix), but perhaps more likely to refer to C. japonica. Internal taxonomy complex and somewhat confused. Present species has been considered to include C. japonica as a race, but the two are apparently sympatric in Mongolia (see C. japonica). African populations may constitute a separate species, as C. africana. Birds of E & C Africa often considered to merit subspecific distinction from those in S Africa, and thus awarded race erlangeri; this name formerly applied to Ethiopian population only; birds of S Africa frequently transferred to nominate coturnix, as deemed to be inseparable; under such an arrangement, erlangeri applied to birds of E & C Africa, and sometimes raised to full species level. Race inopinata sometimes synonymized with nominate. Azores birds sometimes separated as race conturbans. Proposed races ragonierii (Tuscany, in NW Italy) and parisii (probably Sardinia) included in nominate. Has even been suggested that this species is monotypic#R. Full review required. Four subspecies presently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. coturnix (Linnaeus, 1758) – Europe E to EC Russia and Mongolia, S to NW Africa and N & C India, possibly to Bangladesh; winters mainly in Sahel zone of Africa and in C & S India.
  • C. c. confisa E. J. O. Hartert, 1917 – Canary Is, Madeira and Azores.
  • C. c. inopinata E. J. O. Hartert, 1917 – Cape Verde Is.
  • C. c. africana Temminck & Schlegel, 1849 – sub-Saharan Africa from Ethiopia and Uganda S to S Namibia and S South Africa (Western and Eastern Cape Provinces), and also Madagascar and Comoro Is; birds from S Africa winter in Angola, S DRCongo, N Namibia and W Zambia.
  • Introduced (africana) to Reunion and to Mauritius, where possibly extinct#R.

    Descriptive notes

    16–20 cm; male 70–140 g, female 70–155 g; wingspan 32–35 cm. Usually indistinguishable in the field from C. japonica, except on call; in the... read more


    Male song somewhat ventriloquial and comprises a rhythmic phrase of three liquid-sounding staccato... read more


    Open habitats, including cultivation, in level or gently rolling land, generally avoiding well-... read more

    Food and feeding

    Opportunistic, eating mainly seeds of grasses, weeds and grain, with well over 100 plant species recorded, but also buds, bulbs, tubers,... read more


    Season varies in some areas with climatic conditions. Laying from mid May to Aug in N Europe, late Mar to mid Jun in S Europe, but clutches... read more


    Complex. Majority of W Palearctic breeders believed to winter S of Sahara, mainly in Sahel zone,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Few data available from which to assess status; problem confounded by occasional and irregular movements in some areas which help to... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K., Kirwan, G.M., de Juana, E. & Boesman, P. (2020). Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 February 2020).