Coturnix ypsilophorabrown quail

Geographic Range

In Australia, brown quail are found along the eastern coast and in the extreme north. They are also found in New Guinea, Tasmania, and as a rare siting in Fiji. They were also introduced in New Zealand (Alderton, 1992; Heather and Roberson, 1997). (Alderton, 1992; Heather and Robertson, 1997)


Brown quail are terrestrial, tropical and temperate species. They require habitat with adequate cover (Alderton, 1992) and prefer rank grasses, moist meadows, and generally heavy cover, but have been found in croplands. They will live in the vicinity of creeks or swamps, but seek higher ground in the event of heavy rainfall. In New Guinea, brown quail have been found at 3600 m in alpine grasslands (Johnsgard, 1988). (Alderton, 1992; Johnsgard, 1988)

  • Range elevation
    3600 (high) m
    11811.02 (high) ft

Physical Description

Brown quail are 18 cm in length (Alderton, 1992) and weigh 75 to 92 g. Wing length is 82 to 109 mm for males and 82 to 103 mm for females. Tail length for both is 43 to 51 mm (Johnsgard, 1988).

Both males and females are dark brown from their crown to their back. There are faint whitish and blackish streaks on the wings. The breast and abdomen are a golden buff to tawny color; the male's black horizontal markings are not as prominent as the female's. The male has dark brown on the sides of his head with a small buff colored area on his throat. The female has a larger patch of cream to buff coloration on her throat with lighter brown on the sides of her head (Alderton, 1992). The flanks and underparts are barred and are visible at close range (Johnsgard, 1988). (Alderton, 1992; Johnsgard, 1988)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range mass
    75 to 92 g
    2.64 to 3.24 oz
  • Average length
    18 cm
    7.09 in


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

Egg laying occurs at the end of the wet season (Alderton, 1992). In southeastern Austraila this is from October to December and in northern tropical areas from January to May (Johnsgard, 1988).

In Australia, seven to eleven eggs are laid per clutch. In New Guinea, a clutch consists of four to six eggs (Johnsgard 1988). In captivity, ten to 18 eggs are laid per clutch (Alderton 1992). Each egg is approximately 30 by 23.6 mm and weighs 9.2 g (Johnsgard 1988). (Alderton, 1992; Johnsgard, 1988)

  • Breeding interval
    Brown quail breed yearly.
  • Breeding season
    October to December in southern Australia, January to May in northern tropical areas.
  • Range eggs per season
    4 to 18

Brown quail chicks are precocial. (Johnsgard, 1988)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization


We do not have information on lifespan/longevity for this species at this time.


When flushed, brown quail will fly at a low angle whereby their brownish coloration is seen from above and below (Johnsgard, 1988). (Johnsgard, 1988)

Home Range

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

Communication and Perception

The usual call for brown quail is a whistling crow uttered as "tu-whee" or "gop-warr," rising in pitch with the second syllable drawn out. When flushed from cover, brown quail utter a cackling call (Johnsgard, 1988). (Johnsgard, 1988)

Food Habits

Brown quail consume grass and weed seeds and other grain-like plant matter (Johnsgard, 1988). (Johnsgard, 1988)

  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts


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

Ecosystem Roles

Brown quail have an impact on the vegetation they eat.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Brown quail may be found in aviaries.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

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

Conservation Status

Although there has been an increase in some types of suitable habitat for brown quail, such as stubble fields, the draining of wetlands destroys their habitat. On the balance, populations of brown quail have been declining as they face a net loss of habitat (Johnsgard, 1988). This species is not listed by either the IUCN or CITES. (Johnsgard, 1988)

Other Comments

A number of subspecies of brown quail are recognized. They are: Coturnix ypsilophora ypsilophora, C. y. australis, C. y. queenslandicus, C. y. cervinus, C. y. dogwa, C. y. plumbeus, C. y. saturatior, C. y. mafulu, C. y. lamonti, C. y. monticola, C. y. pallidior, and C. y. raaltenii (Johnsgard, 1988).

DNA evidence shows that Coturnix ypsilophora australis is quite distinct from Coturnix; therefore, resurrection of the formerly accepted genus Coturnix may be warranted (Johnsgard, 1988). (Johnsgard, 1988)


Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

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



Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

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


an animal that mainly eats seeds


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.


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).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

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

oceanic islands

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.


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


a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


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


Alderton, D. 1992. The Atlas of Quails. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications.

Heather, B., H. Robertson. 1997. The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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