Button Quails - Two broody females fighting

Ptarmigan

Chirping
Feb 16, 2018
10
24
51
Sydney, Australia
Howdy! It's been a long time since I've been around these parts, but I've got a bit of a problem and I need some advice.

I have three button quails (where I live they're normally called king quails), 2 females 1 male. I got the females from the same breeder, they grew up together in the same aviary and have always gotten along (I ended up naming them Pea and Pod), except for the occasional squabbles that are neither lasting nor serious. The boy I got from a pet store, it took him a few days to get used to the females but now he loves them.

Recently, they've made a nest, both females helped in its construction, and both have been laying their eggs in it. There are about 13 eggs in there now. A week or two ago Pod became broody and started sitting on the eggs, and a few days ago Pea became broody as well and decided that she also would like to sit on the eggs.

At first they just both sat in the nest and it was okay, even occasionally grooming each other while they were in there. Only one could sit on the eggs at a time though, so this escalated to one shoving the other off the eggs so she could sit on them, then a little later the other one would turn around and do the same. This has escalated again to attacking and pecking each other. Pea has now been entirely kicked out of the nest. She keeps trying to get back in, but every time she does she starts by attacking Pod, then Pod attacks back and chases her out.

No bloods been drawn yet, and I really want to stop things before it gets that far. What can I do to make peace? I've tried making a separate nest next to the other one, and moving some eggs in there, but that didn't work and now I'm worried I hurt the eggs. I'm considering buying another box like the one they're nesting in and making an exact replica of the nest and see if I can trick Pea into thinking this is the nest, but I don't know if that will work any better than last time and I don't want to move the eggs if I can help it.
 

JaeG

Crossing the Road
5 Years
Sep 29, 2014
6,808
18,189
861
New Zealand
🥰 I love their names. For such little birds they can cause quite a bit of drama. 🤣

Unfortunately you may have to put Pea in a separate cage, still within the aviary so she can see her friends. Fighting over a nest isn't good because it means the eggs aren't being sat on properly (though when all is said and done quail eggs are pretty resilient). Perhaps you can make a replica nest and put it in the cage with her to see if she will settle, then at least if Pod doesn't turn out to be an attentive mother (which can happen) you have a back-up.

Also, keep an eye on your boy when they do hatch because some will attack chicks. I even kept a boy because he'd been parent raised thinking he'd be a great dad, but he attacked and killed his babies. If he doesn't turn out to be a good dad put Pod in a smaller cage with the chicks because it's the father's job to round up chicks that have strayed too far from the group and Pod won't be able to do that in a big space because she will concentrate on the bulk of her brood rather than drag them off to find one straying chick.
 

Ptarmigan

Chirping
Feb 16, 2018
10
24
51
Sydney, Australia
Thanks for the advice! (and I'm glad you like their names 😊, when I first got them every time I looked in the box they were grooming each other, it was so cute).

I'll give that a go tonight. I did end up buying another box, so I'll make a replica nest and put that in with her. I've even got some extra eggs from a previous clutch that never hatched that I could put in there, hopefully entice her to sit.

Thanks for the warning about the boy. I left out his backstory because my post was already long enough, but he was housed with a different female previously and they raised several clutches together. He has no idea what to do with eggs, but when the chicks are actually hatched he is quite a good dad, so at least I know I don't have to worry about him 😋
 

Ptarmigan

Chirping
Feb 16, 2018
10
24
51
Sydney, Australia
They're good! Haha, nice to see another Sydneysider here :wee

So, I put a divider in the cage, and ran it right beside the nest box. I then put the replica box, complete with nest and eggs, in the divided part with Pea, and sat it right next to the original box, to see if I could trick her into accepting the new box. And it worked! Pea quickly accepted the new box and has been nesting in there quietly.

It's worked so well that yesterday I removed the divider, and there hasn't been any fighting at all since (I work from home right now, so I can keep a good eye on them). Pea and Pod now sit in their identical nests, side-by-side. :celebrate

The boy has been very good too. He's been taking turns sitting in each nest and keeping the girls company, I expected him to play favourites and pick one to stick with but he really hasn't. He's a funny little guy and not the brightest crayon in the box, but he always impresses me with how good he is with the girls he's with.
 

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