The blue quail was described as Coturnix adansonii by Jules Verreaux and Édouard Verreaux in 1851. It is named after the French naturalist Michel Adanson. The species has had a complex taxonomic history, being classified into the genus Coturnix, then Synoicus, then Excalfactoria. Phylogenetic evidence supports it belonging in an expanded Synoicus that, alongside the king quail (S. chinensis) also includes the Snow Mountains quail (S. monorthonyx) and brown quail (S. ypsilophorus). The IOC World Bird List and Handbook of the Birds of the World now both place it in Synoicus. Sometimes considered a subspecies of the king quail, the species is monotypic.
Distribution and habitat
The species is found in Sub-Saharan Africa. It ranges from Sierra Leone to Ethiopia, and south to Zambia, and eastward to Kenya. The habitat of the blue quail excludes dry areas. Inhabiting mainly grassland and fields, the birds typically live near rivers or other bodies of water.
The blue quail is 14–16.5 cm (5.5–6.5 in) long and weighs 43–44 g (1.5–1.6 oz). Its legs are yellow. The colour of the eyes varies from brown in the juvenile to red in the breeding male. The species is sexually dimorphic. The male's plumage is mostly dark slaty-blue, with rufous patches on its wings. The male has a black beak, a brown head, and a black and white throat. There is a white patch on its breast. Its flight feathers are brown. The forehead, sides of the head and neck, and flanks of the female are orange-buff. Its crown is brown, with black mottles. The female's beak is brownish. Its underparts are buff, with black bars, and its upperparts have black and rufous mottles and streaks. The juvenile is similar to the female.
The blue quail is migratory. It often migrates to regions at the start of the rainy season and leaves early in the dry season. It eats seeds, leaves, insects and molluscs. Its voice is a piping whistle, kew kew yew. It also gives the whistle tir-tir-tir when it is flushed. The blue quail is monogamous. The nest is a scrape. Eggs are usually laid at the beginning of the rainy season. There are 3 to 9 olive-brown eggs in a clutch. The eggs have reddish and purplish freckles. They are incubated by the female for around 16 days. The chicks are precocial.
- BirdLife International (2016). "Synoicus adansonii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22678971A92796857. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22678971A92796857.en. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
- McGowan, Phil; Madge, Steve (2010). Pheasants, Partridges & Grouse: Including buttonquails, sandgrouse and allies. Bloomsbury. p. 244. ISBN 9781408135655.
- Verreaux, Jules; Verreaux, Ed. (1851). "Description d'espèces nouvelles d'oiseaux du Gabon (côte occidentale d'Afrique)". Revue et magasin de zoologie pure et appliquée. 2 (in French). 3 (11): 513–516.
- Jobling, James A. (2010). Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. Bloomsbury. p. 31. ISBN 9781408133262.
- Kimball, Rebecca T.; Mary, Colette M. St; Braun, Edward L. (2011-05-02). "A Macroevolutionary Perspective on Multiple Sexual Traits in the Phasianidae (Galliformes)". International Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 2011: 423938. doi:10.4061/2011/423938. PMC 3119463. PMID 21716735.
- Seabrook-Davison, Mark; Huynen, Leon; Lambert, David M.; Brunton, Dianne H. (2009-07-28). "Ancient DNA Resolves Identity and Phylogeny of New Zealand's Extinct and Living Quail (Coturnix sp.)". PLOS ONE. 4 (7): e6400. Bibcode:2009PLoSO...4.6400S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006400. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 2712072. PMID 19636374.
- McGowan, P. J. K.; Kirwan, G. M. "African Blue Quail (Synoicus adansonii)". In del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D. A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions.
- Pappas, J. "Coturnix adansonii". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
- Redman, Nigel; Stevenson, Terry; Fanshawe, John (2010). Birds of the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Socotra. Bloomsbury. p. 130. ISBN 9781408135761.
- Blue quail - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds