Button behavior- love/hate relationships in quail

Discussion in 'Quail' started by gorabbitgo, Sep 21, 2012.

  1. gorabbitgo

    gorabbitgo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 9, 2012
    I have a mini-flock of six buttons, five girls and a boy, who are just about six to seven weeks old now. Up until now they've been very clingy with each other, desperately calling and crying if any bird is out of sight of the others. Even when my littlest was being bullied and i took her out of the pen so that she could get a break, the others who had ten minutes earlier been pecking her in the head were flock calling and searching everywhere for her!

    So now my male has picked a mate from the females, and she's decided that the pen is not big enough for all of them anymore. She has been attacking every other female ruthlessly and goading the male to join her, which he does. I tried putting them into their own separate cage yesterday because they were being so mean to the other four females. So what happened? They cried and paced, trying to get back to the rest of the flock. The four remaining females returned the calls and similarly paced the cage trying to get their missing flockmates back. Nobody ate or slept or relaxed all day. At night i finally returned the couple to the rest of the flock, where they snuggled down for bed in the usual birdy cuddle pile.
    Then this morning the bullying started again. I put them outside for the day in two separate outdoor pens (the couple in one and the single ladies in the other) and again it was flock calls and pacing, trying to get back together. When they came in for the night to their indoor pen, the bullying started right back up! If i leave the male with the other four girls, he's fine and peaceful. It seems to be the newly mated female who's torn on whether she hates or needs her sister hens.

    So far there are no injuries but i can tell that at least one of the girls who's been getting the brunt of the bullying is getting worn down. She seems tired, like she hasn't slept. She and the others are all eating and drinking water just fine, it's just that they're clearly not as energetic as they were last week.

    This is maddening! Any other quail-as-pets folk have this happen? What should i do?
  2. GrandmaBird

    GrandmaBird Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2012
    well this is why we say to keep them in pairs. My suggestion is to get rid of the extra females or pair them with more males in their own cages! It is really a territory thing with them. If they can not see or hear the others the bad behavior should stop. good luck. here is a good site to learn more about them

    Bracken Ridge Ranch - Button Quail Eggs
  3. gorabbitgo

    gorabbitgo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 9, 2012
    I'll try separating the new couple again. It's just that every time i do, all of the birds become distraught and stop eating until the mated couple are back with the rest. Even the couple! They'll preen and act all cutesy in the pen with the others, but in their own separate cage together they ignore each other and just pace and call for the others.

    I blame this on the breeder from whom i bought my quail. I originally intended to just get three hens, but i saw his setup with no less than twenty birds each in tiny filthy cages and felt so awful for the poor birds that i took five and he gave me the roo for free. I couldn't say no and condemn the little guy to that life. I think the chicks are so used to living in those crowded conditions that they get separation anxiety when one of their group disappears, even though their natural instinct says to establish and defend territory.
  4. gorabbitgo

    gorabbitgo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 9, 2012
    I got the new couple situated in their own pen earlier today. They are NOT HAPPY, but at least they're relying on each other for comfort. The four single hens were upset at first, but they seem much more relaxed and comfortable now. I guess three days of bullying was the right amount to ensure they don't miss their absent flockmates.

    As a side note, i noticed that there is one hen that never got pecked or picked on. She's the largest, quietest, and a very dark blue face. The mated female is a golden. The hens who got picked on the most were a wild type and a golden tuxedo, with the blue face tuxedo picked on second least.
  5. quailchick

    quailchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2012
    My Bobwhites were doing almost the exact same thing. I have four, 1 male and 3 female. I had seen the male mounting my littlest female "Slow Poke". All was fine for about two weeks of this. Then the largest female "Sasquatch" and the male started picking on Slow Poke.

    All Slowpoke was doing in the cage was trying to hide from the rest of them. Her feathers on the back of her head and neck were all gone. She had bloody sores there, so I HAD to separate her. I didn't have another cage at the time, so I put her in the fish tank brooder. Then they would all freak out and call for her and pace back and forth in the cage. And even though they were bullying her, Slow Poke would do the same. So, I thought I better put her back in, so the bullying started up again. I watched it for a while and it was at the point where she wasn't eating or drinking, so I took her out again. I gave her a branch of leaves in the fish tank brooder and she calmed down and hid in the branch. After she was healed, I put her back in and Sasquatch immediately attacked her. So out she came again, and I purchased another cage for her. I have had Slow Poke be herself since, the other 3 birds are all fine together. The cages are side by side and they are all acting normal now, except I am not sure but I think that the male is not mating with the other females now. It is interesting to me that Slowpoke was the only female the male mated with, and she is the only one laying eggs! I wonder if mating brings egg laying on early...

    I thought maybe Sasquatch wanted the male to herself and was fighting for him, but they are not mating now. I also thought it might be because Slowpoke was the runt out of the four eggs, she would have died in the shell if I hadn't of picked her out (she had pipped completely around the egg but was too exhausted to pull herself out, humidity was perfect but the egg had still dried around the pipped edges). Plus she has a different looking beak than the others, so it may be a deformed beak. It is larger and has a slight hump on it. I think if the same distortion was on a human nose, it would be very unattractive. Might be natural selection at work.

    So I think that at first when separated, they freak out, but then they will settle down after a few days. I think that is better than letting one get bullied. :)
  6. lindsey bate

    lindsey bate New Egg

    May 28, 2013
    Hi I have 1 male and 2 females, after a couple of weeks I noticed that one of the females were getting bullied, so I took that one out and put wire mesh in-between so that they could still see it. After a couple off weeks I tried introducing it back in to the group but my other female had started laying eggs, they are still bullying her. Today I bought her a friend a girl but the one that was being bullied is now bullying my new quail I don't know what to do. It would be help if you could help me. would it be best to take the female back and get a male for her ?? answers needed
  7. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    You need to keep them in pairs. 1 male to 1 female. I would take the new female back and get the other hen a male. :)

    Oh and welcome to BYC and the quail forums!

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