The Common Quail (Coturnix dactylisonans), Fig. 67, is a Rasorial bird included in the family of the Perdicinae or Partridges. The quail attains a length of about 8 in. The feathers of the head are black, edged with rusty brown. The hinder part of the neck and crown of the head are divided by a long pale yellow line; the breast is of a yellowish-red, spotted with black, the scapulars and feathers of the back are marked with a pale yellow line in their middle, and with ferruginous and blackish bars on their sides,

The Quail arrives in Britain in May and departs southwards in October; the males arrive first and greatly exceed the females in number. The males assist the females in the care and upbringing of the young. The nest is little else than a hole scratched in the ground. From six to eight eggs of an oily green colour are deposited in Britain, six to twelve, or even fourteen, being the number prevailing on the continent. Thus a brood, called a "bevy," in Britain contains six or eight quails. The food consists of herbage, seeds and grains, insects and worms. The flesh is more juicy and delicate than that of the partridge. The London market is supplied with quails chiefly from France. Table quails are principally fed on hemp seed. Quails are very pugnacious, and "quail fights" were indulged in by the ancient Greeks and Romans, just as combats of this nature afford amusement in some parts of modern Italy, the fighting quails being armed with artificial "spurs," after the fashion of fighting cocks.

The Common Quail.

Fig. 67. - The Common Quail.