Coturnix adansoniiAfrican blue quail(Also: blue quail)

Geographic Range

In Africa, these quail range from Sierra Leone to Ethiopia south to Zambia, Cape Province, and Natal (Rutgers and Norris, 1970; Johnsgard, 1988), then eastward to Kenya (Jackson, 1926). They are absent from the Congo basin and other dry areas (Rutgers and Norris, 1970; Johnsgard, 1988). These quail are considered to be partially migratory (Jackson, 1926; Clancy, 1967). (Clancy, 1967; Jackson, 1926; Johnsgard, 1988; Rutgers and Norris, 1970)


African blue quail inhabit terrestrial grasslands and cultivated areas (Jackson, 1926) in tropical regions. Specifically, they occur in pairs in lush grasses bordering rivers (Clancy, 1967), wet grassy or marshy areas (Johnsgard, 1988), grassy plains and meadows, and weedy cover in fallow cultivated fields and gardens (Clancy, 1967). (Clancy, 1967; Jackson, 1926; Johnsgard, 1988)

Physical Description

African blue quail are 14 to 16.5 cm in length. Wing length for males is 78 to 82 mm and 80 to 84 mm for females. Tail length is 26 to 32 mm and 29 to 31 mm for males and females, respectively (Clancy, 1967; Johnsgard, 1988).

In general, these quail closely resemble Coturnix chinensis, except that the male lacks the chestnut coloring underneath, and the female lacks the heavier black barring on the wing coverts (Johnsgard, 1988). The male has a brown head, cheeks and side of his head (Rutgers and Norris, 1970). A distinctive bluish color is evident when the male is flushed from cover. As with C. chinensis, the female lacks the white and black throat markings, gray underneath, and chestnut coloring on the flanks (Johnsgard, 1988). (Clancy, 1967; Johnsgard, 1988; Rutgers and Norris, 1970)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range mass
    43 to 44 g
    1.52 to 1.55 oz
  • Range length
    14 to 16.5 cm
    5.51 to 6.50 in


We do not have information on the mating system for this species at this time.

The breeding season occurs during a prolonged period of time, depending on temperature and rainfall patterns (Johnsgard, 1988). For example, in South Africa, the breeding season is December to April (Jackson, 1926; Johnsgard, 1988), whereas it is from May to July in Uganda (Johnsgard, 1988).

The nest consists of a scrape on the ground in weeds or grass lined with a bit of grass leaves or roots (Clancy, 1967). Clutches are from six (Jackson, 1926) to nine eggs that are olive-green or pale yellowish-brown and are unspotted and rough in texture. The thick-shelled eggs are 24 to 29 mm long by 19 to 21 mm wide (Clancy, 1967). They weigh approximately 4.5 g. Incubation time is 16 days (Johnsgard, 1988). (Clancy, 1967; Jackson, 1926; Johnsgard, 1988; Clancy, 1967; Jackson, 1926; Johnsgard, 1988; Clancy, 1967; Jackson, 1926; Johnsgard, 1988)

  • Breeding season
    December to July
  • Range eggs per season
    6 to 9
  • Average time to hatching
    16 days

Incubation time is 16 days. Chicks are precocial and are cared for by both parents and remain in the family group until they can fly. (Johnsgard, 1988)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • protecting
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female


We do not have information on the lifespan of this species at this time.


African blue quail have fast and direct flight. They are difficult to flush from cover (Clancy, 1967). These quail are not territorial (Johnsgard, 1988) and are considered to be partially migratory (Jackson, 1926; Clancy, 1967). (Clancy, 1967; Jackson, 1926; Johnsgard, 1988)

Home Range

We do not have information on the home range for this species at this time.

Communication and Perception

During the breeding season, the call of the male is a three note piping whistle, where the notes descend in scale. The first note is shrill and the last two notes are softer in tone. When flushed from cover, a squeaky three-note call is uttered (Clancy, 1967). (Clancy, 1967)

Food Habits

These quail feed on a variety of grass and weed seeds, green vegetation, insects (Jackson, 1926; Johnsgard, 1988), and small land mollusks (Clancy, 1967; Johnsgard, 1988). These quail become fat after extensive eating in preparation for migration (Jackson, 1926). (Clancy, 1967; Jackson, 1926; Johnsgard, 1988)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • mollusks
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts


We do not have information on predation for this species at this time.

Ecosystem Roles

These quail affect the insect and plant popluations they feed on.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

African blue quail provide food for humans in Africa and are sometimes kept in aviaries.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of these quail on humans.

Conservation Status

African blue quail have not been listed by either the IUCN or CITES.

Other Comments

These quail are closely related to Coturnix chinensis (Johnsgard, 1988). (Johnsgard, 1988)


Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Janice Pappas (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


union of egg and spermatozoan


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.


makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


Clancy, P. 1967. Gamebirds of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Purnell & Sons Ltd.

Jackson, F. 1926. Notes on the Bame Birds of Kenya and Uganda. London: Williams & Norgate, Ltd.

Johnsgard, P. 1988. The Quails, Partridges, and Francolins of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rutgers, A., K. Norris. 1970. Encyclopedia of Aviculture, Vol. 1. London: Blandford Press.