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Blue Quail

Synoicus adansonii

The blue quail, known scientifically as Synoicus adansonii, is a diminutive bird, measuring a mere 14–16.5 cm in length and tipping the scales at approximately 43–44 grams. This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males sporting a predominantly dark slaty-blue plumage accented by rufous patches on the wings, a brown head, and a distinctive black and white throat. The male's beak is black, and during the breeding season, his eyes take on a red hue. Females, on the other hand, are adorned with orange-buff on the forehead, sides of the head, and neck, while their crown is brown with black mottles. Their beak is brownish, and their underparts are buff with black bars, complemented by black and rufous mottles and streaks on the upperparts. Juveniles resemble females in appearance.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the blue quail, look for the male's dark blue plumage and the rufous wing patches. The female's orange-buff and mottled brown pattern is also distinctive. Both sexes have yellow legs, and the male's red eyes during the breeding season can be a helpful identifier.

Habitat

The blue quail favors grasslands and fields, typically establishing its presence near rivers or other bodies of water. It avoids arid regions, preferring the lush landscapes of sub-Saharan Africa.

Distribution

This species is widespread across sub-Saharan Africa, with its range extending from Sierra Leone to Ethiopia, southward to Zambia, and eastward to Kenya.

Behaviour

The blue quail is a migratory bird, shifting its location with the onset of the rainy season and again as the dry season commences. It is a monogamous species, with pairs forming strong bonds. The nest is a simple scrape on the ground, and breeding typically coincides with the beginning of the rainy season.

Song & Calls

The blue quail's vocal repertoire includes a piping whistle, articulated as "kew kew yew." When disturbed and taking flight, it emits a "tir-tir-tir" whistle.

Breeding

During the breeding season, the female lays a clutch of 3 to 9 olive-brown eggs, speckled with reddish and purplish freckles. She alone incubates the eggs for about 16 days. The resulting chicks are precocial, ready to move and feed shortly after hatching.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the blue quail is varied, including seeds, leaves, insects, and molluscs, which it forages from its grassland habitat.

Conservation status

The blue quail is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List, with a large range and a population trend that appears to be stable.

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