Quail gender is something new owners are curious about; being able to identify each bird will help when it comes time to process if you’re raising quail for the purposes of eggs and meat.
It’s easier to identify quail once they’ve reached maturity or close to it. I’m using the bobwhite today as a visual example. We’ll also be discussing behavior and a little biology.
These Bobwhite quail are 16 weeks, almost full grown and much larger compared to the coturnix. Notice the body feathers are very similar among each quail. Can you spot the differences?
The Male Bobwhite Quail
The males have white feathers on the stomach. The head has a defined white line over the eye and under the neck and beak. They’re pretty handsome and the males will also appear larger compared to females.
The Female have a brown chest; the feathers become whiter further down the stomach.
Her head is subtle, she too has a line over her eye but it’s light brown, some might even refer as cream colored. Under her beak and neck you’ll notice the feathers are the same color pattern of light brown.
Close Up and Personal
We have two males and one female here, their outer body feathers they’re almost identical. The only real appearance difference between the two is their head feathers.
When mating season approaches many times it’s the females who choose their mate so you want to make sure you have a good ratio of each in your flock because the males are also the dedicated gender to raise most of their off spring.
This isn’t always true but it’s interesting to watch and why you should know the difference between males and females.
If we get to the biology of gender we need to handle the bird very carefully. Quail are quick and like to squirm so catching them regardless of breed can be tricky. Never grab a quail by the foot, they’re fragile and can break easily.
Once the bird is caught hold in both hands until it calms then turn upside down with one hand so you can see underneath the tail space; we’re looking for the cloaca.
Blow the feathers apart to expose and lightly press down with two fingers above and below the opening. If this space is clean with no bulge or residue then it’s a female.
After pressing this area and white foam appears or a small ball budges forward then it’s a male. Thankfully with Bobwhite quail you don’t need to get this detailed.
Coturnix Gender Identification
With the coturnix quail it can be difficult to tell by their feather markings because some of the sub category breeds have solid markings. This is when you would need to check gender by using biology identification.
This can be a pain because coturnix are even faster than bobwhite,, but if you’re processing for meat you will definitely want to know the males from the females especially if you’re raising the breed for eggs.
Observing Quail Behavior
Quail behavior can be another way to observe gender. I’ve listed some specific things to keep an eye out for when trying to identify between a male and female.
Males have a tendency to attack and fight one another. For this reason don’t keep a large number of males in your flock. Coturnix Males have a mating call; it’s a soft chirp. They will stand tall, stretch their neck and call.
Bobwhite males will call out as if saying their name, “Bobwhite” It’s so neat!
Females will build the nest and if you have quail that are nesting in the tall grass you can be assured she’s getting ready to lay eggs.
Females may also have a loss of feathers on their heads; the males will grab that part of the body to mount, breeding is aggressive behavior.
The last thing to consider is among the majority of all birds, males are brighter colored and females are more camouflage. If you want to identify your quail without a flaw then I recommend going the biology route especially if you’re raising coturnix.