This is my website dedicated to the Chinese Painted Quail (button quail). It provides information on all aspects of keeping and breeding these cute little birds in our UK climate, from housing and feeding to breeding your own.
It all started in October 2002 when I went to a Farmer’s Market in Salisbury whilst visiting friends. I saw a little box of these tiny characters and was hooked. I came home to Manchester and starting planning my first hutch.
In May 2003 I got my first pair of Chinese Painted Quail (CPQ) – Ching and Bindi Sue. By February 2004 I was incubating my first brood – 5 eggs, four of which hatched into bumble bee-sized chicks, perfectly formed. They are a constant source of entertainment throughout their lives, from exploring and sleeping like ‘babies’ when they are first born, to socialising as ‘teenagers’ and nesting and moving eggs around their cage when they’re older. Ching is still an endearing little guy who loves looking after his females.
The Chinese Painted Quail (excalfactoria chinensis) is about 4-5 inches in height, much smaller than other members of the quail family such as Japanese and Harlequin quail. They are ground dwellers and love to sit on top of their houses to watch the world go by. They can fly much like pheasants and partridges – they take off and fly in a straight line until they hit something. They can easily clear a 6 foot fence. When they are frightened they ‘boink’; they fly straight up and can cause themselves quite serious injuries if their cage has a low roof. This is another reason why they are excellent for keeping on the bottom of outdoor aviaries. As well as being low maintenance feeders, eating the seed spilt by the other birds, they have room to boink.
The males are distinguishable from the females by having a white bib under their chin; some also have prominent facial markings. But colours like white, pied and blue face, or birds where no markings are apparent or no bib is present, will have to be sexed by body shape – the females are slightly larger than the males with a plumper body – or manners – you could put a dish of mealworms into the cage and see what happens. The male will pick up the mealworms but will not eat them. He will chirp away until the female takes it out of his beak. Another characteristic of the male is his funny walk when he is courting the female. He will walk around her, one foot in front of the other, with his body at an angle of 45° sideways, head cocked, chirping away at her saying, ‘Look at me. Aren’t I a handsome fellow?’
Even more amusing is the first time they see a piece of cucumber or a millet spray. Standing on tiptoe only the very brave venture towards it to determine it’s safe, before they all tuck in and flick it around the cage.