People have been keeping quails as pets for many years because they are charming little game birds and are easier to feed. Although their lives are not long enough, they still are good to keep you company for a few years. On the other hand, quails and their eggs have also been eaten by humans for many years, they have flavorful flesh and are easy to cook. Unfortunately, quails’ population has been decreasing for the past few decades because of the loss of their habitat and becoming easy prey to many animals.
Quails eat a variety of food, which mostly consists of grains and seeds but they also feed on insects and fruits or vegetables as a treat. What and how you feed your quail depends on the purpose you are getting them in the first place.
Whether you are keeping a quail for their meat, which is mostly Bobwhite quail because of their fast growth rate, or if you want to prepare the quail for flying (sporting events, dog training, or release), their nutritional needs and the way they are going to be fed are different. Or simply, if you are interested in Quail Habitat Management, your main focus is going to plant plants that will provide food and shelter to quails.
Overall, quails are super flexible and adaptable birds in their eating habits. In their natural habitat they feed on plants when the temperature is warm and the greens are available, while on cold winter days, they mostly eat seeds. Plants provide the most food for quails, whether directly or indirectly; some plants attract insects which then become the food for quails. Throughout the year, different foods are dominant in a quails’ diet, so to feed them properly all year round, you should have a variety of plants available.
Which plants provide shelter for Quails?
The population of many species has been decreasing because of habitat loss, degradation, and the growing pesticide use. The agricultural lands are now managed so intensively that many spots where quails used to feed are difficult to find. Overall, Quails try to avoid short vegetation that does not offer proper cover, so they avoid manicured lawns. A normal yard’s natural plantings may be perfect for them. Moreover, locally native conifers are a great and safe spot for roosting and nesting sites. Tangles, thickets, and brush piles are also excellent cover or hiding spots for these amazing little birds.
Can Quails eat plants?
Plants not only provide shelter to quails, where they lay eggs and hide from predators but they also provide food for them. Whether the food plants provide is direct in the form of leaves, fruits, or flowers or indirect like attracting birds, becoming a food source by providing seeds. So, yeah plants and seeds have been the preferred food source for quails for so long.
What Plants can Quail eat?
Plants along with seeds are the major diet options for quails. They enjoy eating the leaves of broad-leaved annuals, (typically, grasses are a minor component of the quails’ diet) with a variety of other plants, depending on the available plants. Some examples of plants quails’ eat are Lotus, Trifolium, Lupinus, Calandrinia, Montia, Hemizonia, Cirsium, Eremocarpus, Amsinckia, Atriplex, Quercus, Rubus, Ribes, Ceanothus, Rhus, Sambucus, Lonicera, Gilia, Toxicodendron diversilobum, Fragaria, Artemisia, Astragalus, Chenopodium, and Salvia.
Additionally, planting the right kinds of vegetation helps quails with both food and shelter, whether it is for an individual quail or quails’ local population. Planting grasses and legumes along with shrubs as snowberry, currant, serviceberry, huckleberry, blackberry, and grape.
Other than these, Native trees that provide small nuts and acorns can also be great for quails. No matter in which area you live, local plants are always the best food source for the native birds and to promote their growth.
Woody plants also produce a major source of a quail’s diet: fruit. Ripe fruits that are within the quail’s reach are consumed by them: they can be consumed whole or can be picked apart for their seeds, which provides calories and moisture. Some of the important woody species for a quail’s diet include Catclaw Acacia, Prickly Pear, Hackberry, and Catclaw mimosa, Oaks, Mesquite, Prickly Ash, Skunkbush Sumac, and Wolfberry.
List of Plants for Quails
Following are the top 10 plants that not only attract quails but also provide food and shelter to them; these plants help in the growth of quails which have been decreasing for the past few decades.
- American Plum.
- Shrub Dogwood.
- Common Ragweed.
- Tame Millets. (Foxtail, Pearl, Browntop)
- Annual Lespedeza. (Korean, Kobe, and Common varieties)
- Partridge Pea.
- Illinois Bundle flower.
- Beggar’s Lice (Tick Trefoil).
- Slender Lespedeza.
Why Do Birds Eat Flower Buds?
Quails along with some other birds including, Pear Apple Peach Plum Cherry Crabapple Cardinals, mockingbirds, grosbeaks, finches, blue jays, goldfinches, and grouse are known to feed on fruit tree blossoms. These birds feed on certain flower buds which provide them with nutrition in early spring when their preferred seeds and fruit are not available. Not to forget that these birds usually do not eat enough buds which will damage the plant and affect the plant.
Feeding a Quail
Well, Quails are savvy birds and are known for their non-greedy nature, they only eat what they need, so you do not have to worry about them overheating. To make sure that your quail is healthy and thriving, you must fulfill its dietary needs and be aware of how you should feed it.
First thing’s first, you must know about the amount of food your quail will need. Although quails are small birds in comparison to their size, they do eat a lot. The pellets or seeds’ pack for quails is a major diet of quails and should be given a considerable amount of them. Keep your eye on how much they eat in the initial days to increase or decrease the quantity accordingly.
Some Additional Treats for Quails
We eat a variety of foods every day and get bored or irritated if we are given the same food for two or three consecutive days. Just like we love little treats now and then and appreciate variations, birds also tend to like it. To meet their nutritional requirements, you must give them the main course but giving some scraps from the kitchen which do not harm a quail can be good for them. Things that quails eat include cake, pasta, sweetcorn, rice, and lettuce. They are smart, so if they do not like what you give, they simply would not eat it. But you should always do your research before giving them anything out of the ordinary.
Note: Quails should never be given anything salty, chocolate, anything with caffeine, meat, or avocado, uncooked potato, and uncooked eggs are also harmful to them.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are an important dietary need of a quail. When, in the wild, they can meet these requirements in the seeds, grains, plants, insects, and other things. But when you are the one providing food for them, you have to make sure that you are meeting their requirements and giving them the vitamins and minerals quails need to survive. Depending on the age of the quail, their vitamins and mineral requirements vary. That is why, feeding the quails seeds, grains, or pellets is not enough, you should also give them fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and Vegetables
In the summer and autumn seasons, quails’ diet also consists of fruits and vegetables and it makes up almost 20% of their diet. They love eating peas, radishes, lettuce, and broccoli along with some other vegetables. Parsley is normally believed to be toxic for quails but if fed in small quantities once in a while, it can be good for them. Some of their favorite fruits are berries, cholla, and cactus fruit like the dragon fruit, saguaro, and prickly pear, along with apples, cucumber, and grapes.
Fresh and clean water should be available to quails at all times. Refilling the water dish every day and cleaning it with soap or water is always a good idea. In the winter season especially make sure to check that water did not freeze overnight. You can also add some supplements like Apple Cider Vinegar which boosts the feather condition of the birds.
All in all, quails are beautiful, savvy, and smart birds. They eat until they are full and do not overeat. Because of the decrease in quails’ population in the past few decades due to loss of habitat, we must provide them with plants that will provide them with shelter and food to promote their population. Plants have been an important source of food for quails, whether directly or indirectly.
Many plants attract quails and provide them spots to build their nest and for roosting. If you want to help promote quails’ growth, growing plants that help them protect themselves from predators is best for them. In this article, we named some of the major plants that are great for quails and allow them to find their food. That being said, we hope the information mentioned above is helpful.