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2 October 2015
What I Learned About Quails

Photo credit: Claudia Bruckert
quail april claudia bruckert
April, the quail

Dear UPC,

I'm Claudia Bruckert (the author of A Rooster’s Tale).

Today I’m writing regarding a different issue which I hope you’ll take a look at. Quail.

On April 1st I took in 11 domesticated quail. They came from a filthy wire cage in the back of the feed store. I so badly wanted to get them out of there. Eleven lives. And I knew I had room for them.

I have since learned that they were not dumped there by a private person, but that the store has its breeders who supply them. So, of course, I won’t do that again.

But now that I have them in my custody, I’m trying my best to rehabilitate them as much as possible.

Until last April I didn’t even know domesticated quail existed. Since then I’ve become increasingly aware of their plight. They are sold to be food or egg layers for a short time. They are said to take up no space, which is not true – not unless they are stuffed in cages, which they often are.

These 11 quail were adolescent, almost fully grown, when I got them. They were utterly silent birds. They could barely walk, they couldn’t stand erect, they came with broken toes. All the feathers of their wings and tails were damaged. They had no sense of objects, food, and space. The males were hyper-sexual, pulling all the feathers off the females’ necks. One of the females was very ill. She started to have seizures which got so extreme we had to put her out of her misery.

By now 6 out of 11 are dead. They died of seizures, paralysis, emaciation, and breathing problems.

During the last 5 months I have been slowly exposing them all, first to objects they had to climb, or move around and under, in order to develop some strength. I started to expose them to an increasingly bigger area. A few weeks later, every evening, I’ve let them out into the big yard, following them so they wouldn’t get lost. They would be easy prey to anything that approaches.

Photo credit: Claudia Bruckert
quail2 claudia bruckert

By now they’ve learned to talk, to find each other by sound, to get along with the chickens, knowing which ones to avoid so they don’t get hurt. They sometimes come when called, and I’m able to herd them back. Individually, but I can. They don’t run. I have to gently push them along. They fly, know their paths through the blackberry thicket and where the best earth baths are. They go out of and also come back into the pen and coop. Sometimes they still need a little help. From the chickens they’ve learned to eat some plants and to check the sky for predator birds.

I keep bugging different clerks at the feed store with my stories and complaints. At least they claim to have stopped buying birds from all sorts of different breeders and now only shop from one breeder. If that’s any better, I don’t know.

As I had no idea about the quail business I suppose that most other people don’t know about it either. We need to learn more. From what I have observed, it’s terrible. – August 31, 2014

Postscript September 30, 2015 Eight of the 11 quails I rescued from the feed store are dead by now. – Claudia Bruckert

Photo credit: Claudia Bruckert
quail1 claudia bruckert



That Quail, Robert, by Margaret A. Stanger

One of the best books ever: 5-Star Review by Karen Davis, PhD

That Quail, Robert is one of the most beautiful and moving books I have ever read. Robert, who turns out to be "she," is evocatively portrayed in a way that sears your heart with the realization of the richness of life within a bird. I cannot praise or recommend this book warmly enough. I have purchased a copy for myself and for two other people who loved it, and encouraged another friend, who has several rescued quails, to buy it, which she did, with gratitude. I am happy to see all these 5-star reviews. This book is poignant and informative about a bird who, sadly, is often kept in abysmal cages, filth and misery by the industries that produce them for food and sport hunting. If you read That Quail, Robert, you will understand why quails should be respected and cherished, and never locked up in cages, as so many of them are. Robert lucked out with Margaret. May all quails be so fortunate.

Review by Karen Davis, United Poultry Concerns, on Amazon.com

that quail robert
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