Why Do Quails Puff Up? (Answered)

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

When a quail is puffed up and tucks in, it’s trying to get warm because of the cold. Sometimes, it might be because they are trying to conserve energy in response to illness. The act of ‘puffing’ their feathers out assists in trapping air within their feathers, which helps insulate and keep them warm.

There are several reasons why your quail could be puffing up its feathers.

Another reason is ragged feathers, which shows that your bird may be lacking in energy to preen. When quail are sleeping, they naturally fluff up their feathers. 

What does it mean when a quail puffs up?

Why Do Quails Puff Up

Birds fluff their feathers to stay warm, as well as to relax for sleep and even when they are ill.

So a bird that spends the majority of the day puffed up is almost certainly in trouble.

Quails puff up their feathers for a variety of reasons. This could indicate that they are overheated, fearful, aggressive, ill, or broody. 

1. It could be an indicator of aggression.

A quail that is defensive or aggressive, whether male or female, may frequently puff up some of its feathers in an attempt to appear more frightening.

This is typical animal behavior. Almost all animals with fur or feathers will puff out in an effort to appear larger than whatever they are up against.

2. It could be that they’re cold.

Occasionally, observing a quail with puffed-up or protruding feathers indicates that they are cold.

By puffing out their plumage, they attempt to retain more body heat. If it is a result of the cold, you may notice they are also huddling together.

Alternatively, they may be concealing themselves in the corner of their coop, standing on one leg, or remaining in their nesting box.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on quails and providing them sunlight

3. Sometimes, this is a symptom of illness.

A sick quail’s feathers will blow up. Often, this is a sign that your bird is suffering from a health problem.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to diagnose what it is simply by viewing them, so you’ll need to take a closer look or consult a veterinarian.

However, you can do a few personal checks yourself before calling the vet. For example, examine the crop if it is full – You can use your hand to feel their crop. If it feels full and seems like it’s been that way for a day, they may have an impacted crop.

Check for mites – In the event of a mite infection, a quail’s feathers may puff up slightly in response to the pain. Examine the area closely around the skin for lice or mites.

Examine recent poop for worms– try looking through some of their recent poops for worms. It’s a good idea to deworm your flock if you haven’t done it in a while.

Do female quails puff up?

Female quails do not puff up their feathers as much as male quails do. But it’s not uncommon to see female quails puffing up.

This is most common when there’s not a single male in the flock.

If you are raising only female quails, you may occasionally observe one or two puffing up. It is most likely a display of dominance among the hens.

Female quails also puff out as a predator approaches their nest. It’s similar to a protective instinct.

How do quails show attraction?

Quails show attraction in different ways. The males put up various performances to impress the female.

To begin, the male will drop its head and spread its wings with its elbows held back to create a feathered wall.

Following that, the male puffs out his chest and walks or even rushes towards the female. If the female is taken with the male, she will accept to mate with him.

Also check out this article on ducks and feeding oats

How do you tell if a quail is stressed?

Stress alters a quail’s behavior, and continuous stress impairs the bird’s immune to disease.

When you are familiar with your quails’ regular behavior, you may detect if they are stressed by seeing three distinct sorts of change:

Droppings that are loose and runny are an indication of stress. A common example of loose droppings as a stress indicator is when you unexpectedly grab a quail, and it poos on you.

Loose droppings may suggest a problem with the feed or water supply.

Alternatively, they could indicate that your birds are suffering from a digestive issue.

Another indicator of stress is labored breathing. It can be because of stressful events such as crowding, panic, or extreme heat.

Struggling to breathe may indicate that the coop is too dusty or that the ammonia odors are too intense.

Alternatively, it could suggest that the birds are contracting a respiratory ailment.

How do I know if my quail is cold?

Quails indicate coldness by huddling in one spot or puffing up their feathers to trap body heat.

Additionally, they frequently stand on one leg with one foot as close to their belly feathers as possible in an attempt to keep warm.

These are not indicators of suffering, and as long as the quail is only resting briefly rather than remaining cooped up for the entire day, there is no reason to be concerned.

However, if you notice this, take immediate action to address the frigid circumstances.

How do I know if my quail is dying?

There are a multitude of possible reasons for your quail’s death.

Examining them and analyzing their daily routine for deviations will assist you in figuring out why they are dying.

For instance, if you detect any of the following symptoms:

  • Fluffed Appearance
  • Dropped Wings
  • Sluggishness
  • Watery Droppings
  • Paleness

Then your quail is dying. They could have been infected with the lethal quail disease known as Ulcerative Enteritis.

It is caused by bacteria that enter the bird’s system via other birds’ droppings. Additionally, it can be transferred via flies that have come into touch with sick birds.

This bacteria disease causes lesions in the birds’ digestive tract, and affected quail usually die.

If you suspect your flock has contracted quail illness, you should visit a veterinarian immediately for treatment options.

Once the disease has established itself, it spreads rapidly. While the disease will kill most quail, if identified early enough, you may be able to halt its spread and cure birds in the early stages.

Do quails like hugs?

No. quail cannot be cuddled like chickens and can be a little more aloof than chickens, but they will still come running for treats and eat out of your hand. 


Strong observation skills are needed when it comes to raising quails.

Like every other bird, if you’re not observant enough, you won’t know when the birds are ill and when they are not.

Most quails puff up their feathers in order to keep themselves warm or due to mite infestation. So it’s best to be alert to prevent the death of your birds.

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About the author

Kloee Ngozi

Kloee is a backyard farmer and avid gardener who enjoys tending to her garden and plants. She is so engrossed with her plants that she has pet names for all of them. She likes to relax with a bottle of wine and read a book.


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