Quail are small birds in the pheasant family. Quail make interesting pets and do need diversions in the aviary as they are active but spooky birds. The eggs of these ground-dwelling birds are considered gourmet products. Most quail lay speckled eggs, but a few types are raised for their eggs. Bobwhite are good producers of white eggs and hens have been known to produce 200 eggs a year. These are not the only quail raised for laying.
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Coturnix or Japanese quail are good layers of a variety of coloured shell eggs. Some birds will produce white shells. Nutrition and husbandry contribute to the development of the proper shell. These quail are attractive birds with a distinctive strip of white over the eyes. The birds are native to the grass and shrub areas of eastern Asia from Russia to Korea.
Bobwhite can lay nearly 190 to 200 eggs in a year. They are the best layers of white eggs and are often raised as laying birds. These quail are native to the Americas and live wild in brush and grasslands. Not closely related to the Asian and European species, the bobwhite has a slash of white over the eye and a patch of white feathering at the throat. The bird resembles a large, plump English sparrow. These are large quail and the most common type available in the United States. Their song is the folksy "bobwhite" call.
Chukar partridge (quail) lay an off-white egg with pale speckling. This striking bird has a dovelike colouring and appearance with strong, black, mask-type streaks over the eye that meet under the throat. The bird's red eye and beak contrast strongly with its plumage. Black-barred breast feathers sit under the wings. These birds have established themselves in the Americas but are native to a wide range from Europe to eastern Pakistan.
Hungarian or grey partridge lay cream to off-white eggs. The grey partridge is native to Europe and western Asia, but has been introduced to the Americas. Distinguished by its mask of chestnut feathers, the bird carries a dove-grey plumage accented by brown tufts. The birds are cold hardy and have a perky, friendly facial expression.
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