Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Near Threatened

Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica)


French: Caille du Japon German: Japanwachtel Spanish: Codorniz japonesa

C. vulgaris japonica

Temminck and Schlegel

, 1849,



Closely related to C. coturnix, and possibly also to C. pectoralis. Has been considered a race of C. coturnix, but the two are apparently sympatric in Mongolia; they also differ vocally, and in biometrics, throat-feather structure and migration strategy#R; small numbers collected in winter in NE India (mainly Manipur) appear intermediate between the two species#R. Siberian population sometimes separated as race ussuriensis, but differences from Japanese populations considered trivial. Monotypic.


Breeds in E Asia, from N Mongolia NE through Baikal region to Vitim region of EC Russia, E to Sakhalin I, and S to Japan, Korea and NE China (E Shandong); also (presumably) in Bhutan#R; may breed in Myanmar. Winters S from C Japan and C China W through NW Thailand and N Myanmar to NE India (Assam) and Bhutan, with small numbers as far N as Buryatia and Ussuriland (Russia) in mild winters. Records from NW Bangladesh usually ascribed to C. coturnix, but may be applicable to present species.

Introduced to Hawaiian Is, Reunion and Italy.

Descriptive notes

c. 17–19 cm; male 85–100 g, female 88–105 g. Usually indistinguishable in the field from C. coturnix, except on call; in the hand, distinguished by... read more


Voice most distinctive character to distinguish present species from C. coturnix (at least... read more


Few data available; open habitats in similar situations to those used by C. coturnix, but... read more

Food and feeding

Wide variety of plant materials; in summer, also takes terrestrial invertebrates.


Laying (including renests and probably also double-brooded, in some areas and some seasons) from late Apr to early Aug in Russia; late May... read more


Annual migrations; in Japan, of more than 1000 ringed birds recovered, only three originated... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. No reliable estimates of numbers, but is considered fairly common in China. In Japan, recent surveys of C... read more

Recommended citation

McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica). 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 18 February 2020).