Christmas Quail!

A juvenile Chinese Painted Quail - one of the most unusual Christmas gifts of 2011...

Of all the gifts exchanged over Christmas, the last thing we expected to receive was a group of quail. The birds were delivered on New Year's Day and we soon had the opportunity to inspect three white coturnix quail (two cocks and a hen) and three chinese painted quail, all of which are too young to sex. The chinese quail are extraordinarily small, and the freedom with which they moved in and out of their cage on their first night was quite alarming.

Thankfully, the white coturnix quail are a good deal bigger - something in the region of a black bird in size. They stay where they are put and the hen has even started to produce eggs, which are genuinely very tasty. The shed where they are being kept now rings to the odd musical chattering of quail, and the time has come for them to be housed outside in a purpose built run.

In the meantime, they are feeding on mixed bird seed, meal worms and chick crumbs, and the diet seems to be doing them quite well. Slices of cucumber are thrown in from time to time and the little birds hollow out the pulpy interior, leaving only the dark green outer skin.

The quail project was a nice surprise for the new year, but it was not something we had planned for. Over the next few days and weeks, we will be keeping the quail and collecting their eggs - yet another smallholding project to be documented on the Solway Feeders blog!