Button Quail Population Overload

On Father’s Day 2019, three button quail chicks popped out of their parents’ pen and onto my patio. With my husband’s help, I scooped them up and got them into a clean tank with heat. I did the usual process, dunk the beak in water, then in food, and let the chick go. They all thrived. And I found a home for two of them. One Thursday in July, four more BQ chicks landed and were taken in to be raised in comfort and safety.

The reason I take the quail chicks in is that their parents are really bad at keeping the chicks alive. The mom may sit on them and keep them warm. But if she doesn’t, they usually die because until they are three days old, they can’t maintain their body heat. Mom may or may not show them where to get food or water. And dad may consider them a threat to his territory and attack them.

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A couple weeks ago, I saw the cat playing with something and thought she had a mouse. Then it scrambled away from her. Another BQ chick. I went out and rounded up as many as I could find. Six of them in the first grab and I heard more peeping but couldn’t get to the chicks. Later, I went out and listened and saw more chicks caught in the bottom shelf under the quail pen. I eased them out as best I could and had another six chicks. A dozen babies all at once! And all related to the growing quail I had inside.

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Sadly, we lost two of the chicks over the next week. I can’t be sure, but I think they were too hot. The heater has no way to adjust it and the weather had been pushing 100 degrees F. We don’t have air conditioning in our house so I run around on the hot days with a spray bottle to cool the parrots down. Button quail don’t do well when they get wet, so that was not an option. I unplugged the heater and they are now doing much better. There are enough of them to cuddle up at night and stay warm enough.

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I have three pens of adult button quail. The hens all lay a ton of eggs. The pen closest to the back door had the couple who have been so very prolific. I’m going to move them to the bigger aviary, I think, maybe just to curb their reproduction rate. The second pen has two hens and one cock. He’s an older bird, but they have produced one or two chicks over the years. I foolishly tried to let them raise the first chick on their own. It didn’t survive the first night. I find eggshells now and then and have to look for the tiny body. There is such a slim chance that they would survive without being snatched up on day one that I know I’m out of luck. But at least I know they are viable.

baby buttons
This group of button quail chicks is from a clutch some time ago.

The couple in the big aviary have not hatched out any chicks and when I open old eggs I don’t find any dead in shell babies. If I move them to the small pen where the high producers are now, maybe they will be more likely to set a clutch and hatch the chicks out. I desperately need some unrelated chicks so that I can make pairs to either sell or put on opportunity tables are various bird clubs. This is the reason I set up three different groups, hoping to have lots of unrelated birds in the future.

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I hear there is someone in a town near me who is raising button quail on a larger scale and may be willing to trade or buy or sell. Fingers crossed, I hope I can get there before I have to find homes for the ten in the brooder tank and before then next group of a dozen plus pops out. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.

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