How to tell the sex of quail

Written by susan kerr
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How to tell the sex of quail
Having the right proportion of males to females ensures optimal egg production in quails. (Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Various breeds of quail have been raised for centuries as domestic poultry and as game birds. Valued for both their meat and eggs, maintaining the proper ratio of males to females in a quail population ensures optimal production. Determining the sex of quails is a relatively easy process requiring no special equipment other than observational skills. Plumage, size, and behaviour are all indicators of a quail's gender.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Observe the colouration and markings of the birds' feathers. Male coturnix, also known as pharaoh or Japanese quails, have reddish chest feathers while females have white chests with some black mottling. Most Asian quail breeds are similarly distinguishable by their plumage. In bobwhite quails, an adult male will have black to brownish head feathers offset by a distinctive white streak running from the corner of the beak, across the eye, and continuing to the back of the head. A white ring around the neck completes his marking. A female bobwhite exhibits buff-coloured feathers in place of the white shown by the male.

  2. 2

    Compare the relative sizes of the birds. Coturnix females tend to be heavier with a broad chest while males are more slightly built. Bobwhite males and females are approximately the same size but their strikingly-different head plumage makes sexing easy.

  3. 3

    Look for aggressive behaviour. Regardless of breed, male quails exhibit more aggressive behaviour, especially during mating time. Males often produce a distinctive mating call.

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