The Phasianidae

The Phasianidae

The Common Quail

Brief Background

Pheasants, roosters, partridges, quails, new world quails, argus and peacocks differ considerably in size, in silhouette, plumage, habitat and in sexual behavior. Thus, while the common quail (European quail) does not exceed 18 cm, or even 12 cm for the case of the black quail, the peacock reaches 2 m in length. Some have short, stiff tails; others their tails are long and flexible, even oversized as illustrated with the names above. Sometimes dull and discreet, sometimes adorned with bright and variegated colors, the plumage of phasianidae passes through all imaginable intermediaries.

Sometimes hardly noticed, or even nonexistent, the sexual dimorphism is generally very sharp, particularly in pheasants and peacocks where; while the males strut around in a livery rich in colors, shades and multiple reflections, the females are sadly dressed in brown.

The beak is more or less short, massive, cutting at the edges, curved at the upper mandible and firmly established. The wings are broad, rounded and short, beating frantically, by which they cause a sudden flight, often disconcerting and particularly noisy. The smallest species fly quickly and upright, being able even like the quail to cross long stages. Others only take off when constrained and forced by danger, contenting themselves with a flight of fear, cut off by brief slips, and not exceeding about a hundred meters. Still others use their wings only to jump from branch to branch, or descend from a perch.

The legs and forelegs are robust, sometimes thick, with strong claws. Their songs are composed of rudimentary stanzas, but powerful and sonorous in large species.

Phasianids are avid seed eaters; many add insects, worms, and buds to their basic diet. The seeds are swallowed as they are, then crushed in the gizzard.

Depending on the case, phasianids are bigamous or monogamous. The very simple nest is placed on the ground, sheltered behind a stone, behind a tuft of tall grass or a bramble tree. The eggs, often numerous, have a more or less mottled homochromic coloring, dominated by ocher, brown, yellow and their secondary shades. With some exceptions, the female bears alone responsibility for the incubation and growing the chicks which are born almost simultaneously. The nest is deserted a few hours after the last hatch.

The Common Quail

Relaxed, but still demanding warmth and protection, the young, whose flight feathers grow very fast, stay with their mother until emancipation. There are several spawns per year.  Only a few rare species, such as quails, are migratory.  Phasianids are represented all over the world, with the exception of the polar regions. 177 species are known, of which only 36 – new world quails – inhabit the American continent. 7 species live in the western palearctic region.

A final word

We hope that this article helped you to get a better understanding of birds. For more articles retated to  Ornithology in specific or animals in general please visit our Animal Category.

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