Encounter with a Japanese Quail

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On the 6th March I noticed a small brownish bird foraging in my garden. It appeared to be quite tame. It did not fly off when approached but darted off, to take shelter under some bushes. There it started scratching the soil like what chickens love to do, seeking out earthworms, insects and their larvae, etc.

Subaraj Rajathurai managed to get a friend to identify the bird as a male Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica) with an all brown face, most probably an escapee LINK.

These quails are ground feeders and poor fliers. They do not normally fly except when migrating. In many parts of the world these birds are being farmed for eggs, meat and even their droppings… for example in India LINK and of course in Singapore LINK 1 and LINK 2.

Normal quail eggs and a white egg – courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

YC Wee & Subaraj Rajathurai
18th March 2019

Addendum: About two months later, I was to find out that a friend staying in the same estate but some distance from my house lost a male quail at about the same time. He has less than a dozen quails that he keeps for eggs in his garden.

Follow YC Wee:

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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