Cornish Biodiversity Network  -  Supporting Wildlife Recording

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Cornish Red Data (2009)

The descriptive text, below the map, is from the Cornish Red Data Book (2009). The map on this web page depicts the organisms distribution and shows the records made pre-2000 and those made since.

Coturnix coturnix - Quail

Range & Status

Europe, Africa and western Asia; in Britain and Ireland it is a summer visitor in variable numbers to southern England, but always scarce and uncertain in appearance. Occasional invasions occur, with breeding taking place throughout the country.

Regional Distribution

Cornwall: scarce, but annual, summer visitor, in some years quite widespread. Recorded annually since 1980, although only single records in some years, but at least 58 in 1989 (in reality perhaps 100,150 birds were present). Such an elusive bird is difficult enough to see, let alone to prove breeding, but a family party were seen near Kilkhampton in 1982 and breeding probably takes place in all but the very poorest years. The Lizard area and higher, open country of mid and north Cornwall seem to be the most favoured areas. Isles of Scilly: fewer records than the mainland, but occurs in most years in small numbers.

Habitat & Ecology

Well drained arable farmland, favouring fields of growing corn in open country. Best located by voice, but Quail call most readily at dawn and dusk and are therefore easily overlooked.


Intensive trapping of migrating Quail in the Mediterranean region continues. The loss of weedy field borders and the application of pesticides and herbicides restricts the possibility of successful breeding more so than 50 years ago.


The presence of Quail is entirely dependant on chance migratory influxes, rather than by habitat management to build up a returning breeding population. Habitat improvements suggested for Grey Partridge Perdix perdix would also benefit breeding Quail. Protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Annexe 11/2 of the European Union Conservation of Wild Birds Directive. Listed (long list) as a globally threatened/declining species (BSGR, 1995).


I.J. Bennallick, S. Board, C.N. French, P.A. Gainey, C. Neil, R. Parslow, A. Spalding and P.E. Tompsett. eds. 2009. Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. 2nd Edition.Croceago Press.

The Cornish Red Data Book Project was led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation for Biological Recorders (CISFBR). The full text and species accounts (minus the maps) are available on the CISFBR website.

Cornish Biodiversity Network. 2017.