Curious about our quail? If you’ve been in our Butterfly Rainforest exhibit lately, you probably saw at least one of these cuties scooting around on a path or dining at their seed stations. They’re called king quail or Chinese painted quail, and we invited them into the exhibit because they are harmless to our other residents — the butterflies!

This is the smallest true quail species and their native range extends from Southeastern Asia to Oceania. You’ll see there’s quite the color variation from bird to bird if you explore the exhibit. They can be very pale silver to rusty red to almost black. But fun fact – only the males have blue in their feathers.

They’re quick and quiet, so keep an eye out for them! Like most species of quail, these little feathered friends live their whole lives on the ground. They have those somewhat oversize feet, because most of their traveling is running through underbrush rather than perching on branches. They even nest on the ground.

As with other exhibit residents, please don’t try to pick them up or touch them. They were raised surrounded by humans, so they are not cautious about exploring nearby if you are quiet, but they are not to be touched or handled.

Our quail sometimes lay eggs, and when we discover babies have hatched, we bring them in to our rearing lab to make sure they get the best care possible until they are old enough to release back into the exhibit space.

King quail are popular residents for butterfly houses or aviaries since they mostly eat seed, tiny insects and some grasses. They have no interest in trying to catch butterflies. Sometimes they are called button quail, but that’s an entirely different species of birds.

Butterfly Rainforest exhibit