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Quail Nest Video Clips

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Prior to recent innovations in micro-camera surveillance technology little was known about quail nest predators. Quail researchers were only able to infer the cause of the nest failure by the remains and the condition of the nest after the predation event. Unfortunately, very little definitive sign was left and little could be concluded. In order to get a better understanding of which predators were depredating quail nests Tall Timbers began investing in small waterproof video cameras.

The objectives of the video camera study were to record nest predator species and nesting behaviors in quail. Wild quail equipped with radio transmitters were located throughout the breeding season using radio-telemetry. When a radio-collared quail was observed incubating a nest a specialized video camera was set up to document activities at and around the nest. A video camera consists of 30 meters of fiber-optic cable attached to a waterproof camera lens, infrared lights for night recording, and a modified surveillance VHS video recorder that runs on a 12-volt deep cycle battery. Camera lens and infrared lights (pictured in upper right corner) are positioned three feet from the nest opening and camouflaged to conceal the equipment. VHS tapes and batteries are changed every 24 hours. The video recorder has been customized to record three seconds of footage on one second of tape allowing 24 hours of footage to be recorded on an eight-hour VHS tape. This causes the video clips to appear being “sped up.” The time and date are recorded in the upper left corner of each video clip.

Below are “highlight” clips of some of the nest predators and nest behaviors we observed since 1999.

Snake Attack

Snake FightIn this snake attack, the snake catches the quail as it flies from the nest. Look for the snake jumping up to catch the quail on the left side of the screen. The snake then falls behind the nest with the quail in its mouth. Eventually, the snake lets go of the hen and returns to the nest to eat the entire clutch of eggs. Watch video.

Run Off Snake

Snake FightThe hen fights and successfully runs off a small snake. Notice one egg is kicked out of the nest during the fight. Watch video.

Run Off Snake (continued)

In the previous “Run Off Snake” clip the hen successfully deters a small snake from depredating the nest. This clip shows the hen rolling an egg back into the nest pushed out during the fight. Watch video.

Raccoon Depredation

RaccoonThe raccoon comes from behind the nest and flushes the quail. Notice how the raccoon eats the eggs whole, leaving no eggshell fragments in the nest. The raccoon consumed all the eggs. Watch video.

Raccoon Attack

The raccoon approaches the nest from the upper right corner; it comes around to the front of the nest and lunges for the quail. The quail flushes to the left side and circles just in front of the camera. Watch video.


ArmadilloWatch for the hen quail trying to defend her nest by getting on the back to attack the Armadillo. Unfortunately the armadillo wins the brawl and returns to eat the eggs. Watch video.


OpossumIn this video an opossum enters from the left side, catches, and kills the incubating bobwhite. The opossum comes back later that night and the next morning to eat the entire clutch of eggs. The clutch consisted of 24 bobwhite eggs. Watch video.


BobcatPrior to the start of this clip the bobcat attacks the hen, but she escapes. This clip shows the bobcat eating the eggs. Watch video.

Barred Owl

Barred OwlThe owl attempts to capture the hen on the nest, but the quail escapes from the owl. Amazingly the owl returns later to eat the eggs. Watch video.

Fox Squirrel

Fox SquirrelA fox squirrel is documented chasing a quail from her nest and eating the eggs. Watch video.


In this clip a coyote returns to the nest site minutes after it caught the incubating bobwhite. The coyote killed the bobwhite just off the screen. It did not eat any eggs. Watch video.

Quail with Chicks

Quail with ChicksAn unmarked male quail with a young brood is recorded feeding by the video monitored nest of a radio-collared female. At the start of the clip the unmarked male looks at the female incubating nest, which could have potentially been his mate. Notice at the end of the video clip the unmarked male gathers the chicks under his wings and breast. Presumably he was protecting the chicks after becoming nervous when seeing the micro-camera lens. Watch video.


This is the only deer we have documented eating quail eggs. Notice how she picks up each egg. Watch video.