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Description of Bobwhite Quail
Average weight: 6 to 8 ounces
Average height: 8.5 to 10.5 inches
Average wingspan: 14-16 inches
Flight speed: 20 to 40 MPH
Average clutch size: 12 to 16 eggs
Egg color: White
Incubation period: 23 days
Average covey: 10 to 15 birds
Bobwhites have mottled brown back and wing feathers with a grayish-brown or dull gray tail. The beak is gray or reddish-brown to black with dark brown eyes. A crest of head feathers, resembling spikes, can be visible when the birds are excited. Legs are yellow-brown with dark shading at the joints. In general, dark legs and feet are associated with darker colored birds. They have ten primary flight feathers and a crop, (or craw), for food storage. They have three toes forward and one behind that is elevated. The elevated rear toe is an adaptation for life on the ground. The toe is not elevated on birds that perch. Gender can be determined at approximately 8 weeks of age.
The male is identified by the white throat and eye line that extends from the beak through the eye, back to the base of the neck. The ear region is hazel brown. This feathering extends backward below the eye line and expands under the throat to form a blackish chest collar under the white chin and throat of males. Males will occasionally have fine black tipping on the white feathers of the throat. The breast and abdomen are irregularly barred with black and white. Males will occasionally have a general suffusion of buffy yellow overlaying the white of the throat. This should not be confused with the buffy throat of the female.
The female throat and eye line is a buff color. Females have buff colored chins and upper throat with brown and buff barring of the breast and abdomen.
The bobwhite has a large repertoire of call notes, which vary in type, range, and emotion. The most famous of them is the whistling “bobwhite” call which changes in volume from whisper to loud. It is primarily a mating song. It is usually heard throughout the summer indicating that an unmated cock is still hoping to attract a hen. The covey call is one of the most important calls, and is uttered by both sexes at all seasons to keep the scattered birds of the covey from wandering from the group for protection. The musical “Ka-loi-kee” or “Hurlee-he” frequently is answered by “whoil-kee”. The alarm call is a sharp “toil-ick, ick, ick which is repeated until the threat of harm has passed.