Quail, the Common, or Tetrao coturnix, L. a bird of passage, frequenting various parts of Europe, and appearing in Britain in the spring, whence some of these wild-fowl depart in autumn, while others remove from one county to another, and shelter themselves among weeds near the sea-side.— In general, those which remain, frequent corn-fields, and are sometimes found in meadows.
Quails resemble the partridge in shape, though they are not half of its size: they construe!; no nest, but a few dry leaves or stalks scraped together, or sometimes a small cavity in the ground serves for their habitation. Here, the female deposits six or seven, and, according to Funke, from fifteen to twenty, whitish eggs, marked with irregular rust-coloured spots; and produces but one brood in the year.
The quail is a cleanly bird, never resorting to dirty or wet places ; its food is similar to that of partridges. Numbers of the former are taken by means of a net and the call, from the month of April till Au-. gust : the proper times for this sport, are, at sun-rising, at nine o'clock in the morning, at three in the afternoon, and at sun-set; because these are the natural periods of their calling. The notes of the cock and hen-quail are very different ; and it is remarkable, that the proportion of males, much exceeds that of female birds in this species.
The flesh of quails is considered a great dainty, being more juicy and tender than that of partridges; but, as quails feed on the seeds of darnel, hellebore, and other poisonous plants, the eating of such birds has sometimes been attended with injurious effects.—An absurd practice prevails in Italy and China, where quails are trained for fighting, in a manner similar to that of cocks in England.