Quail are often overlooked when people think about backyard birding. These small, ground-dwelling birds are an important part of the ecosystem and provide many benefits to their surrounding environment.
In this article we go through a few different ways that you can attract quails to your property so that they can thrive in their natural habitat.
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Quails are small, plump birds that are similar to chickens. They live in the wild and have adapted well to living in areas with humans, as they often eat from human-provided food sources such as gardens and trash cans. Quails do not fly very well, but they can jump or run long distances.
Males: Males are gray and brown, with a black face and a white band around the face.
Females: Females are brown and do not have any facial markings. Both sexes have a white belly with a scaly reddish-brown pattern on it, which is also seen on their back and wings when they fly away from you. Quail make chirping sounds in flight to keep track of each other during migration.
* Their feathers have a lot of shine to them due to the barbs which run lengthwise along the shafts and make it look like they’re wet or greasy.
- 15–19 cm (5.9–7.5 in) length
- 30–36 cm (11.9–14.1 in) wingspan
- 68 to 142 g (2.4 to 5.0 oz) weight
Quails can be found in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia. The range of quails is generally not well known to many people but it does extend across the countries listed above as well as parts of Central America such as Costa Rica and Panama.
These are the 6 native species of quail in North America with their range.
- California quail (California, Washington, Oregon, Southeastern Idaho, Nevada and Northern Utah)
- Gambel’s quail (Desert regions of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Texas, and Sonora)
- Northern bobwhite (Eastern North America)
- Mountain quail (West of the Rocky Mountains)
- Montezuma quail (Southwestern US and Mexico)
- Scaled quail (Arizona, Northern New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Mexico)
They live near or around water sources like farms, gardens, orchards, grasslands, rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams.
Quails make their homes in dense vegetation like thickets of shrubs and trees with an open understory to provide cover from predators as well as food resources such as berries and seeds.
How to Attract Quail
Plant Native Trees
In the United States, quails are not a common sight. However, if you plant native trees in your yard, they may come to call it home. These types of trees provide food for the birds as well as shelter from predators and humans that would harm them.
The Quail population has increased by 40% in states where native plants have been planted due to this symbiotic relationship between plant life and animal life.
Native trees like Acacia, Prosopis, Cottonwoods, Willowsand, as well as shade-loving plants like Oak, Cedar, Elm, Mesquite, Hickory, Dogwood, and Ash have been shown to attract quails from as far away as 3 miles away because of their roosting sites, food sources, and protection from predators like hawks.
Plant Shrubs and Bushes
There are many shrubs and bushes that attract quails, such as Eastern Ceanothus, Blueberry Bushes, and Trumpet Vine.
The following is a list of 8 plants to attract quails:
1) Eastern Ceanothus- eastern ceanothus attracts quail by providing cover from predators and roosting sites for nighttime activities.
2) Blueberry Bush- blueberry bushes provide protection from predators and food.
3) Trumpet Vine- trumpets vine provides roosting sites, shelter, and natural fruit that attracts quails.
4) Ash- ash provides protection from predators, roosting sites for nighttime activities, and fruit that attracts quails.
5) Chestnut Tree- chestnut trees provide protection from predators, roosting sites for nighttime activities, and fruit that attracts quails.
6) Juniper Berries – juniper berries provide an abundant food source for quails and are a good shrub to grow in the garden.
7) Orange Tree- fruit that attracts quails.
8) Pokeweed- pokeweed provides cover from predators, roosting sites for nighttime activities, and the leaves can be eaten by both humans and animals (including quail).
Provide Food Sources
A natural food that attracts quails is millet seeds because they are an annual crop and when harvested the seed heads remain on the ground.
Quail feeders can be filled with oats, wheat, corn or barley grains; however these should not be mixed together as this may lead to a competition for resources among the birds. The following recommended products below are direct linked to Amazon for your convenience.
The best ones include lettuce, sunflower seeds, safflower, milo, cornmeal bread crumbs, cracked corn, raisins, oats, millet seeds, and wild bird seed. The food will need to be scattered on the ground for a while before it attracts any quails so be patient!
Quails are attracted to the sound and movement of running water, so you can entice them by creating a small pond in your backyard or near your garden. Quails love fresh water and will come running from miles away if they hear it trickling or see it in the distance.
Try creating a watering hole by digging a shallow hole in the ground, about 2 feet deep and 4 feet wide, lining it with rocks and filling it with water; this should attract them within hours! Add some floating plants like duckweed or frogbit.
Providing shelter for quails is an important step in attracting them to your property. The right type of housing will make a difference in how many birds you attract and also the size of their population.
Shelter should be offered from both predators and inclement weather conditions, such as rain or snow. You can provide this with nest boxes or by constructing your own form of shelter using natural materials found on site like brush piles, logs, or fallen trees.
Steps to attract quail using nest boxes.
1) Find a place in your yard where you can build a home for quail and their eggs, such as near a bush or tree.
2) Purchase and assemble at least one nest box that is large enough for quails to enter. It should be made of sturdy materials, so it doesn’t get blown away by wind or eaten by other animals like raccoons or squirrels.
3) Place the nest box near a bush or tree, so it is out of reach from predators.
Extra Tips To Attract Quails
1) Be sure you have ample vegetation in the area of your yard where you want the quail to hang out. They need cover from predators, so they feel safe and won’t stray too far away from their favorite hiding spots.
2) Purchase or build nesting boxes for them.
3) Put out shallow bowls of water or a ground birdbath for them to drink from or place one inside their shelter. Place a pile of stones near water sources or small pools where they like to drink from.
4) Create a brush pile with sticks that are about 2-4 inches thick, 6-8 feet long and 8-10 feet wide. Add leaves, twigs , straw, corn cobs and acorns in areas where you want to attract quail.
5) Place a few food dishes near your bird feeder and sprinkle seeds on the surrounding ground.
6) To attract quails to your yard, try planting clover or alfalfa seeds in a patch of dirt near your home.
7) Plant shrubs and brush on one side of your yard and keep the other side clear so that quail will feel safe coming to the area with less vegetation, as if it were their home territory.