Do All Quail Have Top Knots?

Do all quail have top knots?

Surely you have noticed that some quails have something sticking out of their heads, as if they were feathers, actually quails with that feathery top hanging out of their heads remind me a lot of Superman (the Christopher reeve superman), with that distinctive fringe on his forehead all the time.

But why do quails have that thing on their heads?  do all quails have that top knots?

These are some of the most frequently asked questions about this distinctive quail ornament to which we find the answer in this topic.

Quail top knots Purpose

The top knot on the head of the California quail is multiple feathers that are projected in a semi-curved shape in black color.

The upper knots on the head of the quail have various purposes, the main one being to attract mates, this is very common among birds, but this is not the only purpose of this distinctive characteristic of the Californian quail.

The knot in the head also distinguishes it from the other species of quail and also from the sex in the same species, although the female quail also has this tuft of feathers on her head, the male has it considerably larger and more striking.

Normally, birds use characteristics of their color pattern and other physical elements to attract mates or repel competitors. Also, these elements can be used to distinguish properly the sex of individuals, their age, and even to discriminate between close species, with which an erroneous selection of a partner could be a great concern from the point of view of biological efficiency.

Do all quails have that top knots?

Not all species of quail have this top knot on their head. In addition to the common quail, there are two other types: the Virginia and the California quail.

The first is an American quail somewhat larger than the regular one (25 centimeters) and is colored brown with light and dark stripes on the neck. It also nests in the soil and can be found in regions of the United States, Mexico and Cuba.

The second one, can reach 26 centimeters, and its feathers are between greenish and gray, and this is the one that is characterized by having a top of feathers in the head. It can be seen in the western United States and has been introduced in other countries, such as Chile.

Do female quail have top knots?

Yes, in the Californian quail the females also have the curved feather on their head, but unlike the male, this one has it much smaller, the top knot on the male’s head is much more pronounced.

Another characteristic that distinguishes the male from the female in this quail is that the male has a black face bordered by a white stripe that makes a great contrast, it is a really beautiful bird.

Do california quail mate for life

In the wild, California crested quail are commonly found in large flocks. But the swarming ends when the mating season begins. While the mating season falls between May and July, the groups will separate between February and March. From then on, quails gather in pairs.

Special features of California quail plumage

The different coloring and drawing is called gender dimorphism. The rooster shows light olive forehead and crown plumage, which is provided with narrow, dark shaft lines.

A white band runs across the eye area and behind the eye, bordered by a black border. The back of the head is brown.

The hood, made up of six feathers pointing forwards, is black. They are widened drop-shaped at the top.

The back of the neck and the back of the neck appear like a white pearl collar, dark brown-gray, lined with black with white spots. The shoulder and breast feathers are gray-brown. The longer shoulder feathers are lined with isabel yellow on the inside flags. 

The brown upper tail and rump plumage appears to be covered in slate gray. From a broad White band lined with throat plumage and fore cheeks velvety black. The ear covers and the outer border of the white throat ligament are of the same color.

Dark gray chest, yellow stripe in the middle of the upper abdomen. The white lateral plumage forms a contrast. The black seams are at the ends of the feathers. In the brown, highlights a large spot with a wide black border in the middle of the abdomen.

The entire underside appears as a pattern of scales that dissolves in the lower middle of the abdomen into a clear isobell.

The side plumage is deep olive brown, the flanks, rump and undertail coverings with medium brown stripes appear lighter, and darker until the longer undertail coverings, the olive brown irises, black legs and beaks are worn by both sexes.

Differences between male and female plumage in California Quail

The crested quail female has shorter, less curved hood feathers. Instead of the gray tones of the male’s plumage, the hen’s neck is a dull Elizabethan brown. The upper part is slightly darker than the male’s.

The chin and throat plumage is grayish white with olive brown shanks. The breast plumage is gray. Otherwise, the feathers are almost identical to those of the male.

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