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Quail Symbolism & Meaning (+ Spirit Animal, Totem & Omens)

Decorative photo of a California Quail

I am a California native, so I may be biased towards California’s state bird, the California Quail. But it is hard not to find these little birds endearing. Quails are undeniably cute, with round little bodies and handsome head feathers. But cuteness isn’t the only thing that quails have going for them. From their social structures to their survival instincts, quails are full of wisdom to share with us.

In this article, we’ll go over various quail meanings, myths featuring quails, and other sources of quail symbolism. We’ll also dig into the potential meaning of the quail as a spirit animal. If you want to skip to a particular section, click the links in the table of contents below.

On this page
What do quails symbolize? Quails symbolize kindness, community, and parenthood. They may also symbolize hardiness or resilience.

What do quails symbolize in Native American cultures? In Native American cultures, quails symbolize modesty and humility.

What do quails symbolize in Celtic cultures? Celtic quail symbolism is tied to the Otherworld and the hunt.

What do quails symbolize in Christianity? Christian quail symbolism connects these birds to God’s power, faith, and gratitude.

What do quails represent in dreams? In dreams, quails symbolize social relationships.

What does a quail encounter mean? Encountering a quail can be a sign that you will have a big family.

What do quails symbolize in mythology? Quail myths connect them to courage and cleverness.

What do quails symbolize in Native American mythology? Native American quail myths depict them as sneaky and clever.

What do quails symbolize in Greek mythology? In Greek myths, quails represent amorousness and divination.

What does the quail spirit animal mean? The quail spirit animal represents people who are natural-born nurturers.

What does the quail totem animal’s meaning? The quail totem animal represents protection and vigilance.

What does the quail power animal mean? The quail power animal represents social harmony and communication.

What does a quail tattoo symbolize? A quail tattoo can represent resilience, love, family, and protection.

If you have a specific question that isn’t answered here, feel free to leave a comment and let me know. I’ll do what I can to help!

Quail Symbolism and Meaning

To understand the meaning of the quail, we’ll start by looking into the traits that make these birds special. So let’s examine some quail fun facts!

People often picture quails as a family group. It’s common to see groups of quails foraging on lawns or in fields with a few adults and a large brood of adorable quail chicks. This is partly because quails often raise their babies communally in big broods. Several adults will combine their babies into a big quail kindergarten that all of the adults watch over together. Not all quails do this all of the time, but the ones who do tend to be more successful. When it comes to raising baby birds, it takes a village!

Print depicting a family of quails with two adults and several chicks.
This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division.

Because of this child-rearing strategy, quails symbolize community and parenthood. Another meaning of the quail may be cooperation or social harmony. Quails look after each other so that they can all thrive as a group. So their symbolism is often connected with important bonds like teamwork and family.

This is especially important since female quails lay such big clutches of eggs. In a single season, a female quail may lay as many as 28 eggs, though 13-14 is far more typical. This is another reason why quails represent large families, fertility, and abundance.

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You might think with so many babies per year that quails survive as a species because of their sheer numbers. But don’t underestimate these cute little relatives of chickens. Quails are surprisingly hardy. California Quails, as a matter of fact, can even survive without water indefinitely. They can only do this if they have enough moist greens and insects to get their hydration from, but it’s still an impressive survival skill. So, quails symbolize resilience and hardiness.

Quails often communicate verbally with each other. There are a variety of calls that male and females use, but what’s even more interesting is that quails sometimes do something called “antiphonal” calling. This means that the male and female will alternate calling. This call and response pattern means that quails symbolize love, romance, and communication.

Quail Native American Symbolism

In Native American cultures, quails represent modesty, humility, and the earth. Quails aren’t as prominent in Native American symbolism and folklore as some other birds, like the crow or the eagle, but they do still play minor roles in a few myths and stories.

We’ll go over a Native American quail myth in another section later on.

Quail Celtic Symbolism

In Celtic cultures, birds often represent the Otherworld. Because birds can transition freely between the earth and sky, they’re seen as symbols of transitions. Quails don’t feature strongly in Celtic traditions, but they can be assumed to represent these ideas. Additionally, in many European cultures, quails are thought of as symbols of the hunt.

Celtic cultures deeply connected the hunt and the Otherworld. Hunted animals were often thought of as passing into the Otherworld. So, more than even other birds, quails can be thought of as Celtic symbols of the sacred hunt and the supernatural.

Quail Christian Symbolism

You might not think of quails as the most religious symbol. Certainly, they don’t have the symbolic presence in Christianity that doves do. But you might be surprised to learn that quails actually have quite a pronounced presence in the Bible.

Quail symbolism in Christianity is connected with the idea that God provides for the faithful. Here are a couple passages that demonstrate the Christian meaning of the quail:

“Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers.”

Numbers 11:31-32

In this passage, the Israelites have been complaining about eating nothing but manna after being driven from Egypt. In response, God sends them an abundance of quail to eat. In this section, the quail represents God’s power and the importance of gratitude.

This passage from Psalms tells the same story in verse:

“He spread out a cloud as a covering,
and a fire to give light at night.
They asked, and he brought them quail;
he fed them well with the bread of heaven.
He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed like a river in the desert.”

Psalm 105:39-41

The quail in this passage represents the unlimited ability of God to provide for his people. Christian quail symbolism is a reminder to have faith in the future and recognize that your needs will be provided for if you stay on the right path.

Quails in Dreams

Dreaming about quails can have mean many different things depending on who you are, what you’re going through, and what your quail dream was like. But generally, a quail dream’s meaning is usually something positive.

Quail dreams represent connections. Your ties to your family and your community are important to your well-being. Quail dreams may signal the strength of those relationships. The meaning of a quail chick in a dream may have something to do with your relationship to your parents or siblings. Dreaming of a quail that you take care of or dreaming of a pet quail may mean that you feel drawn to nurture those relationships.

Decorative image of a quail on a tree.
Decorative image of a quail on a tree.

Dreaming of eating quail might represent a future success on the horizon. Quail dreams can be a reminder to trust the process and be patient. You are already on the road to accomplishing your goals.

Another possible bit of quail dream symbolism is romance. Dreaming of a calling quail is a sign that you feel a desire to connect with a partner and that you need to communicate earnestly and be vulnerable in order to foster a love connection.

Quail Encounters and Omens

An encounter with a quail can be an exciting experience. These ground-dwelling birds often gather in groups, so encountering one quail often means encountering many!

An encounter with a family of quails may represent fertility. Put simply, if you’re hoping for a big family, encountering a bunch of quail may mean that your dreams will come true!

The meaning of an encounter with a male quail might be that you need to be more assertive to accomplish your goals. Don’t be afraid to puff out your chest and make your voice heard.

Quails in Mythology & Folklore

Quails aren’t found in a lot of world mythologies. But they are close relatives of chickens, so there are plenty of stories from around the world that showcase the quail’s close relatives. In Chinese mythology, for example, the Fenghuang is a great immortal bird that symbolizes harmony. Because it is connected to chickens and quails, Chinese quail symbolism connect quails with courage and leadership.

The next couple of sections will go over a few examples of myths that do feature quails as important characters.

Quails in Native American Mythology:

The Native American Pima people of Arizona have a myth that features quails. In this story, a group of quails find Coyote sleeping in the desert. The quails sneakily cut some meat off of Coyote without waking him up. They then flee and cook the meat. Before long, Coyote smells meat cooking and wanders into the camp. He asks the quails to share and they agree.

But once Coyote has eaten his own meat, the quails cannot help but tease him. Over and over, they call out to Coyote that he has eaten himself. At first, Coyote doesn’t understand, but then he notices his injury and grows enraged. He chases the quails into a hole in a cactus. When Coyote catches them, he asks each one who was responsible. they each point to the last one in the hole. Coyote pulls out the last one and bites into it, but the quails had tricked him again and the last quail was actually a piece of prickly cactus and Coyote dies from eating it.

Quails in Greek Mythology:

In Greek mythology, quails are connected with a female Titan named Asteria. Asteria is a goddess of divination, dream interpretation, and the nighttime. She is also the mother of Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft.

According to legend, Zeus desired Asteria, but she did not feel the same way. But Zeus was persistent. He chased Asteria all across the night sky. Asteria became desperate and so she transformed herself into a quail. But Zeus did not stop pursuing her. So, in her quail form, Asteria dove into the sea. When her feathers hit the water she transformed into an island which became known as Delos.

Decorative image of a quail in a bush.
Photo by Elisa Stone on Unsplash

Delos would become the island where Leto gave birth to the twins Apollo and Artemis after Hera chased the pregnant woman from every country on earth. In some versions of the myth of Leto and the twins, Zeus seduced Leto in the form of a quail.

The Greek meaning of the quail can be thought of as romance, eroticism, prophecy, dreams, and sanctuary.

Quail Spirit Animal

Is the quail your spirit animal? Check out our spirit animal guide to help you find yours if you’re not sure.

So what is the meaning of the quail spirit animal? Well we already know that quails represent family connections, communication, resilience, and faithfulness. The quail spirit animal does truly embody these ideals. People with the quail spirit animal are natural nurturers who look out for others. In their friend group, they’re the ones who are always checking in and making sure that everyone is safe, happy, and has what they need.

The quail spirit animal is also very generous. If you’re a quail spirit, you’re probably the kind of person who will give others the shirt off of your back if they need it. Quail spirits treat “what’s mine is yours” as words to live by.

Although they tend to be reserved and calm, quail spirits are not shy. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and will freely share their thoughts. They aren’t afraid to deliver hard truths either. The quail spirit says what needs to be said.

Quail Totem Animal

As a totem animal, the quail is a guiding force. A quail totem animal may represent protection or vigilance. Small groups of adult quails watch over huge broods of baby quails. This takes a lot of work and a lot of attention.

If your totem animal is the quail, this may mean that you are called to protect others, not with force but with attention. You notice danger quickly and your instincts are very sharp. As a quail totem, when you listen to your gut, you always react quickly to trouble.

Quail Power Animal

A quail power animal’s meaning is harmony. If you’re dealing with social groups that aren’t getting along well or families experiencing friction, call upon the quail’s power to help you find common ground with everyone.

The quail power animal represents both strong and assertive communication, as well as attentive and thoughtful listening.

Quail Tattoo Meaning

A quail tattoo can mean different things depending on the person and the style. If you’re thinking of getting one, then you probably already have a few ideas about what a quail tattoo means to you. Here are a few quail tattoo meanings you might not have already thought of:

  • Romance
  • Family
  • Resilience
  • Survival
  • Gratitude
  • Faith
  • Courage
  • Protection


I started this article by telling you that I’m biased, but I hope that now that we’ve reached the end you’ve found some reasons to love quails too. Quails are charming, interesting, and surprisingly hardy. They’re exceptional little birds with a variety of fascinating meanings in a multitude of cultures. From Greek myths to hunting traditions, quails have a surprisingly huge impact on human culture. Hopefully they’ve made an impression on you too!

More Spirit Animal Symbolism to Read About:
Kookaburra Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)
Ostrich Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)
Oriole Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)
Merlin Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

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