Quails Demonstrate Mastery of Camouflage to Protect Colorful Eggs

Quails Demonstrate Mastery of Camouflage to Protect Colorful Eggs

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A quail egg is like a protein-filled, free lunch, waiting on the ground to be spotted—and devoured—by a predator. But the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) seems to have mastered an impressive level of camouflage-manipulating behavior to keep her eggs off the menu.

Female Japanese quails tend to lay distinctive eggs that are specific to each individual quail. Some of the birds lay eggs that are deep gold and half covered with dark brown splotches; others’ eggs are a delicate pale yellow with just a smattering of gray spots. A new study suggests that the female selects a nesting area that is the best camouflage for her specific egg appearance before it is laid. The findings were published online in Current Biology.

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