NOTES ON THE BEHAVIOR OF BUTTON QUAIL
The Chinese Painted Quail or Button Quail have interesting behavior which any keeper should be aware of to avoid potential problems. For their diminutive size, Button Quail can be very aggressive. There are two types of aggression that might be encountered. Button Quail might be aggressive only towards other Button Quail, or they might direct their aggression towards other aviary birds, particularly the very young. Let's discuss each of these separately. To avoid situations of almost certain aggression, these quail should all be introduced into a cage or aviary at the same time. Adding a new bird, or even several new birds to an already established group may result in severely injured or dead birds. While this sort of behavior is almost to be expected, there are instances where introductions work out well with only short term, quickly forgotten confrontations. Generally males are the aggressors, but do not underestimate hens. Single hens in a cage often try to protect their territory by attacking any new bird, male or female. If you must introduce new birds to an already established group, do it when you will be home all day to watch them. If they are aggressive, you will know it right away. One method of curbing the aggression is to remove the current quail for a while (several days or more), introduce the new birds and then later reintroduce the former occupants. Always be aware of the possibility of aggression between newly introduced birds. Many times there will be no activity, but don't just walk away, watch them.
Aggression towards other birds in an aviary is always a possibility. I keep these quail with finches, diamond doves and other exotic doves and have observed some quail to be habitual problem makers, though fortunately most Button Quail never cause any problems. There is little you can do for a problem causing quail other than removing it from the area. Males seem to be more likely to cause problems than females. The most often encountered habit is plucking feathers from other birds. Total isolation might cure this, debeaking surely will. On occasion, these quail might make a meal of a fallen baby finch or diamond dove, easily regarding it as a tasty morsel. That's only normal and you cannot anticipate that sort of activity.
Feather plucking is a frequent problem with Button Quail. This often occurs in flocks of birds which are overcrowded. Single pairs or small groups rarely develop feather plucking. It is habit forming, and once they begin, it is often necessary to isolate the birds from other quail in hopes that they forget about plucking when reintroduced. If you have a serious problem with no solution in sight, then you can employ the same method that many game bird breeders use, called debeaking. It sounds terrible, but actually its quite effective. Debeaking involves trimming the upper beak just slightly shorter than the lower beak. The result is the bird is unable to easily pluck feathers. It does not affect the bird's ability to eat whatsoever. The beak is trimmed using a red hot soldering iron. This method works well, but I only recommend it in severe cases and then only by experienced game bird keepers.
Courtship by the males is a spectacular sight. The cock will often fan both wings outwards while running around the female, with his head cocked down, and the rump elevated, as if to display the red coloration. This is often accompanied by him carrying a tasty morsel in his beak to solicit a response from the hen. Such behavior often precedes mating. When mating, the cocks will grab the hen by the feathers on the back of the head and continue to pursue the hens until copulation is complete. This often appears to be a violent attack on the female, but don't be alarmed, it is quite normal. Mating may occur several times in succession and many times per day.
Keep coming back for more information on these great little quail!
Mutations of the Button Quail