The White Button Quail
© 1977 Poule d'eau Publishing
The White Button Quail is in all likelihood a recent mutation. Its price throughout the US as well as England and Europe suggests this. Our first Whites obtained in 1987, from Cecil Gunby of GA, originated in Belgium. While the plumage is snow white, these quail are not albinos. Their eyes are black. The beak and legs are yellow. The White is the only mutation that poses problems in sexing adult birds. Since no markings are present, one must rely on other characters to separate the sexes. As in all Button Quail, hens at maturity are generally substantially larger and more heavy bodied than males. Males are small and slim; they are never heavy bodied birds. By simply holding these birds one can distinguish sexes. Inspection of the vent area is another reliable method used in sexing whites. Females have a large anal opening, males have a noticeably smaller opening. Try this method on an easily sexed color variety such as Normals to determine what to look for when attempting to sex the White Button Quail. White chicks have bright yellow down. The prominent black eyes of this mutation are readily seen in the newly hatched chicks. While the color of adult Whites does not vary, we have noticed that the down color in White chicks does. Some chicks are a bright canary yellow, while at the other extreme some are light yellow and others nearly snow white. The best explanation for this is that the color differences in chicks can be attributed to the individual ancestry of each quail. For example a White produced from normal wild type ancestry might display bright yellow down, while a white which had silvers as its ancestor might have light yellow or white down. I know for certain that the White mutation can mask other colors. In other words, even though the quail is white, it harbors the color genes for its original ancestors. Frequently White Quail are produced in which a few colored feathers appear. We have had Whites with occasional dark feathers of the normal variety and others with prominent patches of silver color, confirming that they harbor other color genes. White is a simple recessive mutation. If crossed with normal all of the offspring from the first mating are normal and carry the gene for white. Frequently these carriers show some tell-tale signs such as white primary wing feathers and perhaps white markings on the breast. Such birds are not truly pied, only carriers for the white gene. I have, however, produced some quite nice "false pieds" in which the birds were 75% colored and 25% white. They were very attractive Button Quail. There appears to be a pied mutation in England and Europe, while I have not seen photos of them, Pieds are frequently mentioned in the literature.
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