My organic, hen-raised quail is now raising her own chicks. Update 3 - Mother Quail

I was amazed by the way Ginger had accepted the quail chicks and they had instantly warmed to her. During the day she continued to keep them close and was worried if they went over to the other side of the box.

Organic coturnix quail and her chick
She was calling to them most of the day in a voice range I have never heard in a quail before. I have probably mentioned that quail used to be kept as song birds but that the whole strain of singing quail were wiped out in the Second World War. Well I reckon Ginger could start a whole new race of them. She also started to do the typical hen-like call to food but she could do it simultaneously whilst making the low coaxing sound, which I interpret as her way of reassuring them that she was there. The way her voice modulates between contralto and alto and up to soprano is quite amazing.

Organic coturnix quail and her chick

For the quail chicks it must have been slightly confusing, as they had been used to Snow Queen and responded to her but they certainly picked up Ginger's voice patterns pretty quickly. On her time-scale the quail chicks had just hatched and as I had also given her one of her eggs, she kept everyone well clamped down. This was really important because although it was warm enough within the house, quail chicks always seem to feel fluctuations in temperature so much more quickly than hen chicks (other than Sebrights). I was also amazed at how much she was aware of perceived danger, these were obviously totally new surroundings to her and  she had no idea whether she was in a safe area or not. She made the most incredible noises if  the chicks went out of sight. They could easily do this as, to make her feel more at home, I had put edible greenery in the box. As the week has progressed she has begun to jump out of the box and then realise she is parted from the quail, then her voice rises to fever pitch!

Organically raised coturnix quail calling to her chicks
Watching them together also solved a nagging problem I have always had, with regards to past experience of raising quail with a bantam, that of quail chicks burrowing down into the chicken's feathers and getting stuck and on occasions almost strangled. Well Ginger can move around the box and I never see the chicks move because she is carrying them. They obviously hang on or somehow attach themselves to her feathers but when she stops they can quickly release themselves. On occasions I have seen them fall out as she moves but it has been rare. Perhaps my using of Frizzles helped me in this because they could not attach themselves so well. However, I am so pleased to have witnessed this as it throws a whole new light on the problem, as it is a proactive and deliberate manoeuvre by the chick rather than, as I had thought, an accidental 'sticking' to the feathers.

Organic coturnix quail carrying her chick
Later on in her first day with the chicks I gave them ant eggs and she really enjoyed offering them. She also got them to eat greenery, which Snow Queen hadn't and they never made a squeak all day except their happy eating sound. Tomorrow I am taking them out to the greenhouse if the weather permits and am hoping to hear and see some new facet of quail and quail chick bonding. I am so pleased that Snow Queen seems happy with her eggs which maybe will hatch in a few days time and Ginger is totally overjoyed with her quail chicks, of which she is the biological mother. I am convinced that Fred was monogamous for the first week until Ginger turned against him, so the chances are that some of the quail eggs under Snow Queen may hatch.

And now, if you'd like to, sit back and watch the film:


None of the other eggs hatched, although Andy, who checked them, did think that one of them could have been fertile. As for Ginger, it's now seven weeks after hatch and she is still very much a mother, even though she stopped communicating verbally with them except at night, around the 31st of May thus two and a half weeks after hatch. Even so, one of the quail chicks still sleeps cuddled up next to her at night and Ginger takes interest in an individual chick's activities.

Organically raised quail and her seven week old chick

This has been a most interesting experience and one I will love to repeat when I can get hold of a suitable male quail, which at the moment seems to be a difficult task!
Organic coturnix quai juvenileThanks for dropping by and if you have enjoyed this piece and found it useful think about sharing it and also maybe about joining this blog. Please also feel free to ask questions or make comments in the section below.
All the very best,


©  Sue Cross 2015


  1. Thanks so much for sharing!! I found the series to be wonderfully educational! I've been hoping to get my own quail to remember they are birds and also hatch out their own babies. :)

    1. Hi Nichole, Thanks so much for your kind comments, much appreciated. This is still an on-going series and my next project is to build a sort of wild quail-type breeding environment in the same way as we have the forest garden for the chickens and pigeons. I was so happy this year to get my quail to sit and look after her own chicks and am hoping to go forward from there to learning more about their habits. I'm still not sure whether or not coturnix are monogamous by nature and how much the wild male would be involved in brooding, certainly the guarding of the nest seems to be important but my male never attempted to sit. There is so much more to learn! All the very best, Sue

    2. Hello I'am Barış. I am from Turkey.I do not have my quail hatchery. My quail that I do not brood. What should I do for it

    3. Hi Barış, In my experience it is much more likely quail will start to nest and hatch their own chicks if you make their surroundings and environment as it would be in the wild. So, I suggest you plant bushes, tall grasses and make a dedicated sheltered site where they can make a nest. I am also convinced that quail are monogamous, so one male will form a pair with a single female but this will only happen when they have space and a natural environment. The female quail responds to the male call or song, this encourages her to start building a proper nest and laying eggs in it. You could also try to encourage her by making a depression in the ground, ideally under a shady plant and placing a couple of quail eggs in it, this should attract the quail and make her believe it is a safe site and a good place to nest. You should also leave the eggs in the nest, once she has started laying, as birds can count and they will know if one is missing! She will stop laying and sit on the eggs when she reaches an optimum number. You should then make sure that none of your quail are continuing to lay in the same nest, as by adding their eggs she will have too many to cover with her wings! So that is they key, the more natural the environment, the more natural the quail will become and the more likely to raise their own chicks. Also feed them a good supply of wild invertebrates such as beetles, earwigs, compost worms... these contain a protein/amino acid called methionine which is their natural food and prevents them from being jumpy and nervous as they often are in captivity on a grain diet. Hope this helps and I will be posting an article on my new quail breeding area soon. By the way, I visited you beautiful country when I was a child, it is a wonderful memory, such kind people and such amazing architecture. All the best, Sue