There are 6 Quail species native to the United States, and they all live for a relatively short time.
So, how long do quails live in the wild and in captivity?
A quail’s average lifespan could be 1 to 5 years in the wild, but most quail species live for 1 to 3 years. Quails in captivity may live 5 to 6 years due to the lack of predators and unlimited food, water, and shelter.
Although many conditions can affect a quail’s lifespan, some have been known to survive almost 10 years when under human care.
To understand the average lifespan of native US quails (plus 1 bonus species!) and the elements that might influence it, keep reading.
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6 US-Native Quail Species and Their Lifespans
For California Quails, the average lifespan is 3 to 5 years in captivity as well as in the wild. However, many quails don’t live past a year old due to predators and hunting.
This is one of the most popular quail species and is the typical image that comes to mind when thinking of the quail.
DID YOU KNOW? The oldest tracked wild California Quail was 6 years and 11 months old.
Sadly, the majority of wild Northern Bobwhites don’t live past their first year of life, owing to being preyed upon by predators like bobcats, coyotes, and raccoons.
A Northern Bobwhite’s life expectancy in captivity can be extended to about 5 years if they’re given the appropriate conditions and care.
The most common quail species, the Common Quail has a typical lifespan of about 2 to 3 years.
In captivity, the average lifespan of a common quail is 5 years.
FUN FACT: Although rare, there have been Common Quail documented as living as long as 11 years.
The maximum lifespan of a Mountain quail in the wild is 1 to 4 years, while in captivity they can live for at least 5 years, and sometimes longer.
A Gambel’s quail typically lives for 1.5 years in the wild, and it’s highly unusual for one to reach the age of 4.
However, the average lifespan of a Gambel’s Quail born and raised in captivity is 5 years or more.
The typical lifespan of a captive Montezuma quail is between 6 and 7 years.
However, the chance of living in the wild for more than 1 year is slim due to being hunted by hawks, coyotes, and other predators.
BONUS Species: Japanese Quail
Native to East Asia, the average lifespan of a Japanese quail is between 2 and 3 years in the wild.
However, this can extend up to 6 years in captivity.
Read our related article, Can Quails Fly? How fast, how far, and at what age? We answer all of these questions and MORE!
Wild Quails vs Quails in Captivity
In the Wild
Quails have an average longevity of 1 to 3 years in the wild, with many species not living past the first year or year and a half of their life.
Even though some quail species and individuals may live longer than this, on average, quails do not live as long as other birds.
This is due to their tiny size, which makes them easy prey, as well as their tendency to dwell in grassy, agricultural regions.
Quails’ lifespan in captivity is 5 to 6 years on average.
Many species of quail can live considerably longer in captivity than in the wild if maintained in a secure environment, fed a nutritious diet, and given access to competent veterinary attention.
However, quails raised for meat or eggs on farms generally have shorter lifespans since breeders often cull older birds to maintain peak conditions.
Thinking of raising quails? Here is a video discussing the pros and cons:
Read our related article on the best Incubator for Quail Eggs. Raising healthy chicks is as easy as a quality incubator! Here are our favorites.
Life Cycle of a Quail
On average, a quail hen lays 200 eggs in her first year, 100 in her second year, and 100 in her third.
A quail’s clutch size can range from 6 to 16 eggs.
In the wild, the male quail may assist in incubating a female’s eggs for up to 24 days.
The duration of incubation varies by quail species. Chicks can walk and seek food within a few hours after hatching when they’re already beginning their first steps.
The male and female care for the hatchling during its first month.
Chicks can fly on their own at 2 weeks old. By 4 weeks, they are completely self-sufficient.
Quails reach sexual maturity at around 6 weeks old, approximately 50-60 days after hatching.
Our article, When Do Quails Start Laying Eggs, provides more information on the lifecycle of quails and when they start to reproduce!
Fun Quail Facts
Here are some interesting tidbits about Quails that you may not know:
- Quail can run up to 12 miles per hour through the bushes when scared.
- If a predator or another disturbance is present, these birds take to the sky for a short time, called “flushing.”
- A quail’s dust bath is a 2 to 3-inch hole that the bird digs in the ground. The adult bird then “bathes” inside the hole to remove parasites, dead skin, and excess oil from its feathers.
- Despite their enormous size difference, quail and pheasants are in the same family of game birds.
- Quails in the southeastern United States get their name from their calls, which can sound like human words. For example, “Chicago” and “Bob White.”
- Quail birds have difficulty maintaining altitude for lengthy periods in the air, so they spend most of their lives on the ground.
- Birdwatchers can identify plumes, or clusters of feathers, on top of a bird’s head as a telltale sign of a quail.
- Wild quails are often hunted during their season with other species being tamed and farmed for their meat and eggs.
- Quails are found in the northern hemisphere, including North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Read our related article on How to Care for Quail Chicks. This guide covers what you need to know to raise Quails from chicks!
Predators of Quails
Quail-eating predators vary by region.
Coyotes, skunks, bobcats (and other big cat species), and raccoons kill many quails annually in the United States.
In the United Kingdom, birds of prey are the most hazardous to wild quails. Hawks and owls go after quail, and will also swoop down on a nest to steal the eggs.
Humans are one of the major threats to the wild quail populations worldwide, and many parts of the United States enjoy quail hunting as a popular pastime.
However, there are regulations in place to minimize the harmful impact of quail hunting on quail populations.
Read our related article, What is a Group of Quail Called? We explore the proper names of quails in this educational guide!
Are Quails Endangered?
Quails’ conservation status greatly differs depending on the species and area.
Unfortunately, their numbers are dwindling in the United States, so northern bobwhites are close to being endangered.
The Common quail is protected in the United Kingdom by the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981, which classifies it as a species of special concern owing to population decline.
Precipitous population declines due to habitat degradation and hunting have endangered many quail species.
In addition to the New Zealand quail being declared extinct in 1875, the Himalayan quail is in danger of going extinct.
Quails have a short lifespan even when in captivity. Their small size, lack of long-distance flying skills, and at-risk habitat make it difficult for them to live more than a year in the wild.