On Nov 21, 2012, RosinaBloom from Waihi New Zealand wrote:
California Quail were introduced to New Zealand between 1862 and 1880. They live in open farm and scrub country where there are bushes and trees for cover and roosting. Quail are instinctively social birds - the covey can easily find food, and alert guards warn against predators. They are monogamous, and pair off in early Spring laying through to March. The nest is a rounded depression in the ground usually in long grass at the foot of a shrub or tree. An average of 14 eggs, and sometimes as many as 22 are laid. During laying and incubation quail are very secretive, and few nests are found. The eggs are a creamy-white colour, spotted, streaked and blotched with light golden brown. They lay one egg a day with several rest days until the clutch is complete, and then a priod of 23 days of incubation begins with the hen, while the cock guards the territory. The entire brood hatches within an hour or two. The embryonic chicks synchronise their development by a system of clicking sounds. About 90 percent of the eggs hatch. Within a few hours of hatching, as soon as they are dry, the down-clad chicks are ready to leave the nest with their parents. In wet weather the chicks stay in the nest warmed and protected by the hen for up to a day or so. The cock remains in close attendance during the following weeks assisting in guarding and brooding the chicks. During the first day or so the chicks can survive by absorbing the yolk sac within them. As soon as sun and warmth allow, they are on the move in search of food. They eat small weed seeds as well as insects, their eggs and larvae. As with so many nesting game birds, nest losses are high, and about a third of birds desert their nests because of discovery by predators. After a couple of weeks the chicks flutter off the ground, and within three of four weeks they fly short distances. By the age of four months they reach the size and weight of their parents. After hatching only about half survive to independence. After nine to ten weeks broods often combine to form larger coveys. Quail feed mainly in the early morning or late afternoon. They eat mostly seeds, grasses, clovers, sorrel and broom and insects in Summer, and fruits, berries and even acorns. They seek water and drink daily, but can survive in arid conditions without water if they eat succulent insects and green plants.