When your button quails are fully adult, they will begin mating, and the hen will begin laying eggs. In a cage, the hen will lay her eggs anywhere she happens to be, rarely in the same place twice. Button Quail lifespan is from 3 to 6 years so if you want to breed these birds, you should not wait too long.There will be no stimulation for incubating the eggs she lays. If you want to raise any young, you will most likely have to put the eggs in an incubator. The eggs are shades of brown arranged in a blotchy, camouflaging pattern, and they are huge in comparison to the size of the bird. These are precocial birds. As soon as the babies hatch and dry off, they begin moving around and eating on their own. They are about the size of bumble bees at this stage. Be very careful at this time to have water containers that are very shallow or filled with marbles. If you give these babies any place to fall in and drown, they surely will! If you have an outdoor aviary where the quail can run and hide, chase insects and scratch in the dirt, they will be in their element. They are a completely different bird in a spacious, grassy enclosure. Here, a pair will search out a nesting site, and the hen will carefully prepare a depression for her eggs in the grass. All of her eggs will be in the nest she has chosen very carefully arranged and hidden. The biggest problem will be a clutch of eggs that is too large for the hen to cover.

If she lays more than seven eggs, put the rest in an incubator. She can only adequately cover and incubate seven eggs, since they are so large. Under these conditions, the hen will incubate faithfully until the eggs hatch. Occasionally, the male will bring her a small bit of egg or a choice insect. When the babies hatch, the hen continues to brood them and protect them until the feather out. If you allow the hen to brood the eggs in an aviary you must make plenty of places for the babies to hide as sometimes even Budgies will attack and hurt the baby quail. Constant monitoring is a must if you allow the babies to be born inside your flight or avairy with other types of birds. Anyone seriously trying to breed Quail should try to get the parents to rear their chicks first. The Quail which have been reared by their parents have a much greater chance of breeding than birds from an incubator. Most breeders of these small but aggressive Quail say you should only keep one pair in the same enclosure for breeding to keep them from fighting. We have kept two pair in an enclosure of 10 feet long by 4 feet deep with no fighting. The quail seem to sort out their own territory and leave each other alone.

Sometimes even when you only have one pair of Buttons in the flight, one of the birds will constantly bully the other. The culprit can be either the male or the female. Temporarily remove the more aggressive bird to give the other one a chance to learn to think of the cage as its own territory. When you return its mate after a few days, it should be more self-confident. There may be some sparring and hissing when you first pair them up again, but the fact that the birds feel more equally matched may put an end to their fighting. The conditions must be absolutely ideal for the hen to brood its own, as these birds are just too nervous to care for their own eggs and young. Sometimes you must remove the cock if you want to coax the hen into bringing up her own babies, although some breeders say the cock actually has helped rather than hinder. I have found that in most captive settings the cock continues to chase and mount the hen until she is too harried to even think about the nest. You do not have to worry about the male not being there to fertilize the later eggs. Bird semen remains viable for days or weeks in the hen's body, more than enough time to ensure that all or most of her eggs are fertile. The first few eggs will probably be scattered across the cage floor. Gather them up and place them in an incubator or a soft wicker nest in a corner of the cage. You can also supply some clean nesting grasses or soft sterile down for the hen to customize her nest. Then leave the hen alone. Do not bother her at odd hours of the day or night except the normal feeding times for your other birds.

If you do everything right than maybe she will set or maybe she will not. If you place the eggs in an incubator they do not require much fuss. The eggs only need to be turned 2 or 3 times a day. Follow the incubators instructions for moisture for the eggs. The chicks themselves can be a little tricky to raise. The brooder must be as clean as you can make it, because the little ones are quite susceptible to disease and cold temperature. Once the babies have hatched you can give them an egg mixture soft food or game bird starter food. If you tap you finger on the food dish this will entice the babies to realize it is food for them. They do not have to be hand fed but this will make them think your finger is another bird pecking at food or the water dish and get their attention. The chicks grow up fast. In six weeks, they could be looking for mates of their own, so it is not too early to think about what you will be doing with them. Some pet retailers will trade them for other birds or buy them from you. You can also sell them to any bird breeder or Quail breeders looking for certain mutations. Inbreeding should not be considered to keep the birds healthy and prevent future problems.

This writing was taken from an article called Better Button Quail by Elaine Radford.


E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca



Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.