QUAIL. The bird which is most generally accepted in the United States under this title, is really the Bob-White--which differs from the quail proper in several respects and is in many points its superior. It is exported to England and elsewhere under the name of Virginia Quail. Its upper plumage is reddish-brown, flecked with black and white, and its under-parts are white or buff with black markings (see Color Page opposite 260). The average market weight is about five pounds to the dozen, but some specimens are considerably larger.
The quail proper is a European bird, smaller than the Bob-White, of variegated plumage, the most noteworthy markings being the buff or whitish stripes over the upper-part. The tail is short and thin, and the bill weak and undeveloped.
History tells us that in ancient times the Israelites, wandering through the des erts, fed on quail—and still to this day they are so plentiful in Egypt that the people cannot consume fresh the numbers captured during the season for hunting them, and large quantities are salted down or dried in the sun for future use. At migration time,
sections of the southern shores of the Mediterranean are almost covered with the birds and they are shipped alive, by the steamer-load, from Algiers and Alexandria to Marseilles, to be thence conveyed to all parts of the Continent. The coveys that make the flight across, reach the European side so fatigued that they are easily caught with nets, and not infrequently by hand, being too wearied to move when approached. The Greek and Italian peasant-women dress them as for market, flatten them between boards loaded with stones and then pack them in jars with layers of salt. This salt quail-meat forms an important article of commerce and is exported in small casks to London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Amsterdam.