Quails are elusive birds that are found on every continent of the world except Antarctica. The various species of quail differ a lot in appearance and size depending on their environment. These hardy little masters of camouflage have colors and behaviors that match their environment. During the day, quails are usually out and about, actively searching for tasty insects and scratching for grubs, but you may have wondered where they sleep.
Quail usually roost in low vegetation or trees. Some species of quails sleep in groups on the ground, especially during the breeding season. Quail species that live in groups called coveys to roost together. Those that sleep on the ground sometimes sleep in circles with their tails facing the center.
Most of us have seen quails, or we may have even dined on quail eggs. While out hiking, you may have inadvertently walked too close to a hiding quail and been startled as it suddenly shoots up into the air and flutters away. The funny little topknot sported by some types of quail can look quite amusing as they scurry about, busily inspecting every detail of their surroundings for tasty morsels. But at dusk, their activity slows down as most types of quail settle down to sleep.
Where Do Quails Sleep?
Each species of quail has unique behaviors and favorite sleeping spots. There are 130 different species of quails in the world, and six are native to North America. These gorgeous gamebirds’ habitat, behaviors, and roosting preferences differ according to their adaptation to survive within specific environments.
Let’s focus on the six types of quail that are native to North America, namely
- California Quail
- Mountain Quail
- Gambel’s Quail
- Montezuma Quail
- Scaled Quail
- Bobwhite Quails
All of these varieties of quail listed are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night. Let’s find out more about where each one of these unique species of quail sleeps.
Where Do California Quail Sleep?
California Quail like to roost in trees at night. Although they are often seen foraging in open areas during the day, they like to get off the ground at night. Compared to some other types of quails, they are quite good at flying in short bursts and can quickly launch themselves into the branches of a tree, or they choose a raised location in scrub if there are no trees available.
During fall and winter, California quails form large coveys, sometimes numbering up to 75 birds. During these seasons, the birds roost together at night. The selected sleeping site is not always the same as the birds move around foraging during the daylight hours and select a roosting spot at the end of the day.
Where Do Mountain Quails Sleep?
Mountain Quail take the distinctive quail topknot to the next level and sport dramatic head plumes. These elusive quails live in Western mountainous areas and move between high woodlands where they spend warmer months and descend to lower areas with more shrubs during winter.
Mountain quails roost in the branches of trees. During summer, they are often solitary, but as the cooler months approach, they gather in small coveys and roost together in groups.
Where Do Gambel’s Quails Sleep?
Gambel’s quail are unusual as they find shelter where they can sleep hidden amongst dense vegetation. Their roosting places are often a few inches or a few feet off ground level, which is unusual among quails that live in desert areas. Using the element of camouflage, they hide in available shrubs and trees at night to sleep.
Where Do Montezuma Quails Sleep?
Montezuma Quails live in the extreme southern regions of the United States and Mexico. Sleeping arrangements for this quail species are quite different from any other types native to North America. Coveys of Montezuma birds are usually limited to small groups of around eight birds. At night the groups gather around a feature, like a rock or patch of grass, on southeast facing slopes. They all face outwards from the selected feature while sleeping.
Where Do Scaled Quails Sleep?
Scaled quails live in groups in the desert grasslands of the South Western US. The environment where they live usually makes it impossible to get off the ground to roost, so they use the safety tactic of sleeping in circular formations throughout the year.
Every evening coveys of Scaled Quails coordinate their seating arrangements so that one bird is facing in each direction while they sleep. This strategy works as an early warning system for the entire group if danger is detected lurking from one direction.
Where Do Bobwhite Quails Sleep?
Bobwhite Quails are social birds and travel and roost together in coveys of between 3 and 20 birds. After busy days spent foraging for food, the groups gather at dusk and form an outwardly facing circle. They sometimes roost among plants or directly on the ground.
These quails range widely through various climate zones from Mexico right through into Canada. Besides being a safety mechanism for the group, sleeping in close contact with one another also conserves heat.
Where Do Baby Quails Sleep?
All species of quail make nesting sites on the ground. They may line them with various natural materials, but the nests and the eggs are almost always vulnerable to foraging predators. While incubating eggs on these rudimentary ground nests, female quails remain on the nest at all times and also sleep on them to keep the eggs warm.
Quail chicks are remarkable. They hatch already well developed and are almost immediately able to follow their parents around and move from one site to another during the day. It can take two weeks for the chicks to be able to fly up to a perch, and during this time, quail parents will remain on the ground to shelter with the chicks while they sleep and provide warmth until they can fly up to above-ground roosting areas.
Quails are ground-dwelling game birds that occur in most parts of the world. Roosting behavior is unique to each species. Some species of quail huddle in tight outwardly facing circle formations, while others roost in the branches of trees. When selecting the best sleeping sites, the main aim is for the birds to find places to rest while safely avoiding predators.