Feathered Obsessions
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Chinese Blue Breasted Quail

 
Chinese Blue Breasted Quail

A.K.A. "Button Quail"

(Excalfactoria chinensis
)



Chinese Blue Breasted Quail or sometimes called Button Quail,  are an intriguing little bird that has fascinated people for centuries. From the times they were kept in China, living in small cages, hanging from the ceiling as they were believed to bring good fortune to those who cared for them to the present many people have found great interest in them. Over the years there have been many misconceptions in their uniqueness and care. One of the biggest being their name. You may have heard them called King Quail , Painted Quail , or even Button Quail when in fact their true name is Chinese Blue Breasted Quail. King Quail is widely used in Australia. Painted Quail may have been from confusion with the Painted Bush Quail. There is a lot of speculation how they came to be nicknamed Button Quail. One of the stories derives from soldiers comparing them to the buttons on their coats.

Although Chinese Blue Breasted Quail are often called Button Quail they have stolen this name from another species. The bird truely, scientifically identified as a ButtonQuail isn't a quail at all but a lost relative of the crane family of birds. The true ButtonQuail (a hemipode-meaning half a foot) has just three toes lacking a hind toe. This small crane is not raised in captivity like the Chinese Blue Breasted Quail is and there is often confusion reguarding the two because of the common use of the term "button" quail to refer to Chinese Blue Breasted Quail.

 Chinese Blue Breasted Quail can be found in homes around the world. In each owners home they find a special place. They are kept by some in the bottom of finch and parakeet aviaries. These quail make a good ground clean up crew for those higher dwelling birds who will not venture to the ground for their seed. Their beautiful array of colors and active lives bring life to the bottom of cages where many cage birds don't venture. Reptile owners entitle the quail with a special task. Small egg eating reptiles find the button quail eggs a wonderful entree small enough even for smaller reptiles. Butterfly gardens have been known to keep them for insect control. Eating the low, ground dwelling insects below the butterflies and becoming a pleasure for the guests to enjoy. Quail eggs are considered a delicacy in many areas served with sushi , salads, even pickled. There are even quail kept merely as pets. They are not your typical pet, however. They are not like some household birds who love attention. The Chinese Blue Breasted quail enjoys to be viewed only. Holding and cuddling only cause this bird stress which can cause feather loss, egg issues, and poor health.

 

No matter why you keep these wonderful little birds they are a joy to everyone who encounters them. From watching them hatch to enjoying their daily antics. 

If you are just considering starting with quail you will want to consider their specialized care needs. Their life span is 6-8 years in captivity so you should plan on caring for them for at least that long. A hens lifespan may be shorter due to stress of egg laying and depletion of calcium. They are a very small bird. Their average weight is just 1.4 oz. They are comparable weight to parakeets who have a  1.3 oz average. Their size makes it easy for them to escape from even what seems like a small hole. Your cage will need to be suitable. They also require special feed containing high protein levels and extra calcium. The hen can lay an egg a day so you will need to consider what you will do with the extra eggs.

Wether it be watching a tiny chick hatch, enjoying their array of colors and swift changes as they grow, or just enjoying watching their busy day they are a great joy to add to any aviary. Once you understand their care requirements I'm sure you will be happy with the decision to invite them into your home!

 

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