Quail is the name most commonly applied to an Old World species, Coturnix coturnix, of chickenlike birds, which migrate seasonally in vast flocks and have long been an important human food source, eg, for the Israelites in the wilderness. New World quail are the only members of a subfamily native to the Americas. New World quail are not migratory. Some are adapted to desert habitats and can survive indefinitely without water if succulent food is available.
In Canada, 3 species are found: California quail (Callipepla californica) and mountain quail (Oreortyx pictus) in the mildest parts of southern BC; northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) is native to southern Ontario. The now endangered northern bobwhite is the best-known species and, in the US, is the most widely hunted game bird. It has been introduced unsuccessfully in several parts of southern Canada. Unlike the other 2, it lacks an ornamental crest.
See also Endangered animals.