Good Plants for a Quail Habitat

Choosing Good Plants for a Quail habitat

I’m often asked what plant varieties are best for a quail habitat.  It’s a great question and choosing native plants for your area may include additional research; I’ll be referencing options that are common across north America.

Quail have a fun diet that consists of seeds, grains and berries.  They also like to eat bugs but today I’m sharing plants for a permanent sanctuary that compliment a natural quail environment.  The following information is suitable for bobwhite quail and can also be implemented for coturnix.

It’s been my experience coturnix quail can be particular so don’t be surprised if you plant something and they ignore it or better yet they absolutely love it.

Studies show there are more than 1,000 different plants to satisfy a quail diet; don’t worry I’m not going to cover 1,000 plants but I will be sharing those with the greatest nutrition value.

Quail also prefer a mixture of native grasses for nesting and seed nutrition.  A natural quail environment should have at least two or three different types of grass available.  Learn more about quail grass here because we’re going to focus on the basics which is seeds, grains and berries.

Seeds for Happy Quail Habitat

Planting for Seed

There are many plants that provide seeds for quail to eat.; some offer a higher nutrition value than others.  In the wild seeds are available from the fall through winter, this is important as food can be minimal that time of year.

If you’re raising quail in captivity offering these plants will enhance their quality of life and help detour feed costs.  The following is a list of beneficial plants for quail.

  • Giant ragweed
  • Western ragweed
  • Soybean
  • Sorghum
  • Sunflower
  • Osage orange (from Bois d arc trees)
  • Dogwood

Additional options that bobwhite quail like include dove weed, bristle grass, beggarweed, cowpea, oak acorns, and wild bean.  Choosing a nice selection of ragweed, soybean and sunflowers would be easy to incorporate for both breeds of quail.

In Texas Osage oranges drop from August through fall; they’re loaded with seeds and can be gathered then placed in the habitat to supplement their diet.

Plant by choosing at least three native plants for either quail breed, the goal is to benefit their environment not overdue it.

Planting Graines for a Quail Habitat

Planting Types of Grain

Incorporating grain is very similar to the benefits of seed planting because you’re seeking additional plants quail enjoy. We’re keeping this list simple with the four basics we’re all familiar with.

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Oats

Planting one by alternating the others between planting seasons could be another option.   A quail diet consists about 80% seed and grains so by adding just a few options in addition to their regular feed you’re offering value to their life.

Let me also add by do this it enhances the entire quail experience for everyone involved.

How to add Berry Plants to a Quail Habitat

Planting Berries

Planting berries is fun, it’s kind of like a dish of ice cream for quail because they make the cutest sounds when they eat fruit.  The easiest berry plants to implement would be blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.

The first three would require careful planning and space as the vines and bushes can grow quite large. If your quail home is small adding these berries may not be an option.

If you have a garden then think about planting berry crops nearby the quail habitat. A mature harvest would allow sharing with the quail, do this by adding small amounts to the ground inside their home.

Since strawberry plants are smaller and require less space they would be the least difficult to incorporate.  Strawberry plants can be started by seed or purchased as mature plants in the early spring and fall.  I haven’t met a quail yet that doesn’t love strawberries.

Plant with a Vision

When adding plant life for nutrition to any quail habitat remember to plant with the vision.  Quail are field birds that live on the ground and prefer hunting for food by foot over flying so it would make sense to plant an environment that looks a bit whimsical with a walk path for you, the path provides a safe place to step without harming the birds as they camouflage to perfection.

If a structured planting setting with raised beds is more to your liking that would also work by also adding an area with tall grass so the birds can utilize their instincts. Choosing the right plants is a matter of incorporating grain and berries that also leave behind seed.

Creating a natural quail environment can be just as fun as raising the birds, are you ready to begin?

Incorporate live plants for a quail habitat to enhance their health and lifestyle in captivity. #Quail, #Homestead



  1. Patti says:

    Hi Carole,

    Your posts on how to raise quail are so interesting. I think I’m going to have to put them on my bucket list!

  2. Jane says:

    brings a smile to my face thinking of them eating fresh berries!

  3. orene says:

    How do I keep cats from killing the quail families. I am trying an ultrasound waves from YardGard and also spraying the outer areas with Liquid Fence cat and dog deterrent. Not sure either one works.

    1. Carole says:

      I’m not sure why this is happening? Do the cats have access to your quail habitat and how are they getting inside?

  4. orene says:

    My back yard is open with large trees and bushes at the perimeter. Quail are not fenced but roam freely in and around the foliage. I live on a residential street and some of the neighbors have cats. I was enjoying a large family of quail with 9 baby chicks. One day they were here and the next – gone. I don’t hear their calls anymore. The only survivor of another family was dad and 3 adolescents. Now there is only one adolescent left, too young to determine sex. I so enjoy watching them from my kitchen window. There are junipers near the feeder, so I guess cats can hide in there. I am so frustrated. These cats are not feral. Can’t trap them because they are not hungry.

    1. Carole says:

      Well it’s the nature of a cat to kill birds. I had one growing up that even went after a baby rabbit, can you believe that? So, I’m not really sure what you can do short of fencing in your backyard to keep cats from getting in. I wish there was a better solution unfortunately I’m empty handed.

      I’m surprised the quail have stayed because normally they move on when their flock is in danger.

    2. Danielle Stansbury says:

      Try making a green house for the quail! I could not stand buy and watch as all my quail were being killed off one by one. I have one tuxedo red and soon a few more and have them a medium rabbit cage setup inside by a window where they can get sun. When I have there outsid pen built it will be where they will be safe from all pray. Good luck on your next batch!

      1. Carole says:

        I raise bobwhites to release as well for self reliance so a greenhouse wouldn’t be an option. Our sanctuary is in a fence area so we’ve never had an issue with quail predators. Glad you found something that works for you. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Morteza says:

    Dear. Carole
    Your article is very very usefull and i picked up good notes in it.
    Thanks too!

    1. Carole says:

      Glad it was helpful – you can find additional articles in the Quail Category in the menu.

      1. Morteza says:

        As a appreciation i have introduced your site to my friends and coworkers.
        Best Regards!

  6. Suzanne Dennis says:

    I was recently given 5 quail that were abandoned. I have done some research and am providing them with clean water,gamebird feed, meal worms, small treats of strawberries and greens, sand bath and some vegatation to hide in. They are in a rabbit hutch currently while we build a larger place for them. These 5 had been together for at least 6 months in a small bare cage with no stimulation just food and water prior to my rescuing them. And now they are fighting!?!?! One of the females relentlessly peeked and chased one of the roos to the point of a very bloody head and swollen eye. I separated the 2 males (the injured one and the other very easy going dude) from the 3 females. Females were immediately happy and have been very content. The injured male is recovering but he is very restless, occasionally aggressive to the other male and seems miserable. What should I do? Leave them separate? Make it so the males can not see the females? I have no interest in breeding and only took them because they needed a safe home but since they are now my responsibility I would like to provide them the best life possible. Any suggestions would be great!

    1. Carole says:

      I’m assuming these were coturnix quail? They do require one square ft. per bird or they will fight. I actually make sure to provide more space because I don’t like crowded environments. If this new space your creating is larger the fighting could possibly stop if space was an issue.

      Quail are also aggressive breeders like most birds so that female could have just been not interested. It’s hard to say what’s causing the aggression separating was a smart decision. I would keep them separate and give them a second try in a larger space to see how they do.

      Adding a few small quail shelters in that new space would also be smart.

      Quail have a very short lifespan, 3 -4 years so if this second try produces the same results – fighting – then I would remove the problem permanently.

  7. Christine says:

    Are these okay to plant in a quail aviary?
    Mustard greens
    Turnip greens
    Radish greens
    Mint (not catnip)
    What other herbs beside dill and fennel are safe? Thanks.

    1. Carole says:

      Quail are finicky with incredible instincts, if you’re planting just for them I would stick with plants they would eat. If your sharing the space for your harvest then your list is fine. They may or may not eat the green. Mine preferred, kale and lettuce greens on occasion but not as a regular diet. They sometimes even enjoyed tomatoes and could devour cucumbers when opened for them, in small doses. I’ve used my herbs outside their habitat to detour rodents and other critters.

      Here are a couple of additional articles you may find helpful.

Comments are closed.