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Japanese Quail Coturnix japonica
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline, potentially owing to hunting and shifts in agriculture. Research is urgently required to establish population numbers, trends, and to assess and mitigate the threats to the species.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Distribution and population
Coturnix japonica breeds in eastern Asia, including northern Mongolia, Sakhalin Island and the Baikal and Vitim regions of Russia, north-eastern China, Japan, North Korea and South Korea. Some populations in Japan are resident, but most birds migrate south, wintering in southern China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bhutan and north-eastern India (del Hoyo et al. 1994). There are also introduced populations in Italy and Hawaii (USA). No reliable population estimate exists, and although the species was previously considered to be fairly common in China (del Hoyo et al. 1994), declines appear to have occurred in Laos (Duckworth 2009) and Japan (Okuyama 2004, H. Nagata in litt. 2009), and there are fears that the species has undergone a significant decline overall (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Duckworth 2009).

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species was has been reported to be fairly common (del Hoyo et al. 1994; Fuller et al. 2000). However, owing to recent suspected declines, the species is likely to be less common than previously thought. National population estimates include: c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in China; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs, c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and <c.50 wintering individuals in Japan and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
This species may have undergone a decline of over 80% between 1973 and 2002 (H. Nagata in litt. 2009). Declines also appear to have occurred in Laos (Duckworth 2009), and although reliable population data are lacking, the species is suspected to have undergone a decline of 20-29% over the past 10 years (three generations).

Behaviour This species is an annual migrant, although some populations in Japan are resident (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Egg-laying occurs from late April to early August in Russia, and late May to August in Japan. Clutch size is varied, with larger clutches in Russia (nine to ten) than in Japan (five to eight). The female is the sole incubator of the eggs (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Habitat Little is known about the preferred habitat of this species, although it is thought to prefer open habitats such as meadows, steppes, and dry mountain slopes near water. It has also been recorded in grassland and cultivated land (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet Its diet is thought to include a wide variety of plant matter, and it will also take terrestrial invertebrates in summer (del Hoyo et al. 1994).

Specific threats to the species are unknown, although it may be threatened by agricultural change in Asia (Duckworth 2009). Hunting is a threat in Japan (Okuyama 2004), and is likely to be a threat elsewhere in its range.

Conservation Actions Underway
There are plans to introduce a ban on the hunting of the species in Japan (M. Okuyama in litt. 2010).Conservation Actions Proposed
Obtain an up-to-date population estimate. Develop a monitoring scheme to establish population trends. Identify and assess the impacts of known and potential threats throughout its range.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Duckworth, J. W. 2009. Recent observations of Galliformes in degraded parts of Laos. G@lliformed 1: 18-20.

Fuller, R.A., Carroll, J.P. and McGowan, P.J.K. 2000. Partridges, Quails, Francolins, Snowcocks, Guineafowl, and Turkeys. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan 2000 -2004. IUCN and World Pheasant Association, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Okuyama, M. 2004. Current Status of the Japanese Quail Coturnix japonica as a Game Bird. Journal of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology 35: 189-202.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J. & Calvert, R.

Okuyama, M.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Coturnix japonica. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Phasianidae (Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse)
Species name author Temminck & Schlegel, 1849
Population size U mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,200,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species