Overview

Distribution

Harlequin quail are found in Kenya, Uganda (Jackson, 1926), east to the Ivory Coast and to south Africa (Clancy, 1967; Alderton, 1992) except for the Congo basin and Namibia (Johnsgard, 1988). They are also found in most of Madagascar (Johnsgard, 1988).

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

  • Alderton, D. 1992. The Atlas of Quails. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications.
  • Clancy, P. 1967. Gamebirds of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Purnell & Sons Ltd.
  • Jackson, F. 1926. Notes on the Game Birds of Kenya and Uganda. London: Williams & Norgate, Ltd.
  • Johnsgard, P. 1988. The Quails, Partridges, and Francolins of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Male harlequin quail have a black and white facial mask, black chest edged with rufous-colored feathers, black abdomen, and rufous-colored flanks. Females have a faint black necklace, brown-spotted abdomen, and lightly rufous-colored flanks (Jackson, 1926; Trollope, 1966). These quail range in length from 16 (Alderton, 1992) to 20 cm (Jackson, 1926) and weigh 57 to 71 g.

Range mass: 57 to 71 g.

Range length: 16 to 20 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

  • Trollope, J. 1966. Some observations on the Harlequin Quail. Avicultural Magazine, 72(1): 5-6.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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These quail are tropical, terrestrial species that inhabit open grasslands (Jackson, 1926; Alderton, 1992). Their habitat, and therefore their distribution is restricted by forested areas (Kuz'mina, 1992). However, these quail will inhabit cultivated areas (Clancy, 1967).

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

  • Kuz'mina, M. 1992. Tetraonidae and Phasianidae of the USSR: Ecology and Morphology. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Libraries.
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Trophic Strategy

Harlequin quail eat a variety of weed and grass seeds including mixed millets and maw (Trollope, 1967) and shoots and leaves of plants (Clancy, 1967). They also eat small worms, insects and their larvae (such as white worms, maggots, and mealworms) (Trollope, 1966) and small land mollusks (Clancy, 1967).

Animal Foods: insects; mollusks; terrestrial worms

Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Molluscivore ); herbivore (Folivore , Granivore ); omnivore

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Associations

Harlequin quail affect both the plants they eat and the prey they feed on.

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We do not have information on predation for this species at this time.

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Known prey organisms

Coturnix delegorguei preys on:
Annelida
Mollusca
Insecta

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

When isolated from each other, males and females will call to one another. Males utter a loud "whit-whit-wheet, whit-whit wheet-whit," and females answer with "quick-ic" or "queet-ic" (Trollope, 1966). When flushed from hiding, a squeaky "kree" is heard (Clancy, 1967).

Communication Channels: acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

We do not have information on lifespan/longevity for this species at this time.

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Reproduction

Harlequin quail exhibit what is called tidbitting, whereby the male offers an insect to the female. The male will also raise his wings slightly and chase the female (Trollope, 1966). Males are aggressive toward one another in preparation for the breeding season (Clancy, 1967). The pair-bond between males and females is very strong (Johnsgard, 1988).

Mating System: monogamous

Harlequin quail nest on the ground in a scrape lined with weeds. Usually, the nest is hidden within grassy vegetation (Trollope, 1966; Clancy, 1967).

The hen lays from three (Alderton, 1992) to nine eggs in a clutch (Jackson, 192; Trollope, 1966). The eggs are light buff or cream-colored to olive brown with heavy reddish-brown, dark chestnut, or purple-brown markings and are 27 to 31 mm long by 22 to 25 mm wide (Jackson, 1926; Trollope, 1966). Incubation lasts 17 to 18 days (Clancy, 1967; Alderton, 1992). The hen may lay two to three clutches per season (Alderton, 1992).

In southern Africa, these quail breed from October to March, most breeding occurs in late December to January. Rain is the main factor controlling the breeding season (Clancy, 1967; Alderton, 1992).

Breeding interval: These quail breed yearly and may have two or three clutches per year.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from October to March.

Range eggs per season: 3 to 9.

Range time to hatching: 17 to 18 days.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; oviparous

Chicks are precocial, and are a yellowish-buff color with heavy dark-brown stripes and are reared by the female. They can scratch for food on their own at thirteen days old and will take dust baths at fifteen days old (Trollope, 1966).

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; precocial ; pre-fertilization; pre-hatching/birth (Protecting); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female)

  • Alderton, D. 1992. The Atlas of Quails. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications.
  • Clancy, P. 1967. Gamebirds of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Purnell & Sons Ltd.
  • Jackson, F. 1926. Notes on the Game Birds of Kenya and Uganda. London: Williams & Norgate, Ltd.
  • Johnsgard, P. 1988. The Quails, Partridges, and Francolins of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Trollope, J. 1966. Some observations on the Harlequin Quail. Avicultural Magazine, 72(1): 5-6.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Coturnix delegorguei

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

History
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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