Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Harlequin Quail (Coturnix delegorguei)


French: Caille arlequin German: Harlekinwachtel Spanish: Codorniz arlequín

Coturnix delegorguei


, 1847,

Oury, Upper Limpopo River, Transvaal, South Africa


Closely related to C. coromandelica. Race arabica, only slightly paler than others, possibly not valid, as most records in its range considered probably migrants from Africa#R; further study needed. Three subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. d. delegorguei Delegorgue, 1847 – Liberia and Ivory Coast E to Ethiopia and S, excluding forest belt and arid SW, to South Africa (S to E Northern Cape and Free State), and W Madagascar; apparently only a migrant in W Africa.
  • C. d. histrionica Hartlaub, 1849 – São Tomé, in Gulf of Guinea.
  • C. d. arabica Bannerman, 1929 – SW Arabian Peninsula.
  • Descriptive notes

    16–19 cm; male 49–93 g, female 63–95 g. Male has very distinctive combination of black-and-white head pattern, black breast and chestnut flanks. Female very... read more


    Advertisement call by male considered to be faster, sharper, much more metallic and higher-pitched... read more


    Favours open grassland with scattered bush cover or palms, and cultivated areas; also lightly... read more

    Food and feeding

    Grass and weed seeds, including Eleusine, Setaria, Brachiaria, Sorghum purpureosericeum, and green... read more


    Season associated with heavy rains, irregular with much local variation: Jan–Mar (Nov–May and occasionally in other months) in... read more


    Pattern varies according to locality. Nomadic in E & C Africa, movements seemingly associated... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: safe. Little specific information available. Considered to be at least common and even abundant in some areas, e.g. in... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Harlequin Quail (Coturnix delegorguei). 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 12 December 2019).