Button Quail, also referred to as “King Quail” or “Chinese Painted Quail” are the smallest species of quail in the world. They are classified as “Old World Quail” because they originate from Asia and other parts of the Eastern Hemisphere, which to settlers was known as the “Old World.” In the late 1800s and early 1900s, European tourists visiting China sparked the popularity for Button Quail. They saw them in cages at the entrances of many Chinese gardens, and they believed that these adorable little creatures brought good luck to those who took care of them. This sparked the interest for many Europeans to bring them back home with them. Later, American soldiers began to see them in the aviaries of wealthy European families and told others that they were “as cute as a button,” and that their chicks were “almost the size of a uniform button.” This is how they became known as “Button Quail.” Even though most North American poultry fanciers only raise them for their cute charm and ornamental appeal, they can still be a hand full to raise. You have to take into account many necessities when raising them: housing, diet, behavior, breeding, colors, etc…
In the wild, Button Quail are omnivorous scavengers which mean that they would scavenge for a variety of plants and insects. In captivity, these birds do not have access to wild plants and insects so they are generally fed a Game Bird Starter Crumble feed or an 18% Protein Chick Crumble. When providing a water source for them it is very important that you purchase a special “Quail Rim” waterer; this will prevent drowning.
Button Quail get scared very easily, and because of this they do a defensive maneuver called “boinking.” “Boinking” is referred to when a Button Quail is frightened and decides to jump up to six feet in the air. An additional maneuver they use is feather loss. This occurs when you grab the bird and they can lose their feathers at will to try and escape.
Button Quail do not really have a set breeding season because they will mate and lay eggs all year round. Artificial incubation is most definitely preferred, but if a hen decides to nest she will make a nest in a tight corner using whatever bedding she is provided with. Chicks that have been raised by a mother tend to have exceptional maternal instincts, whereas artificially incubated chicks tend to kill or feel threatened by the appearance of new chicks.
These adorable little birds come in a wide variety of colors. Normal(Brown Breasted Blue), Blueface and Golden Pearl are your most common and dominant colors. I prefer some of the more appealing and recessive colors such as Silver, White, and Cinnamon.
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