There are two main types of quail. The Old World Quail, and the New World Quail. Sounds rather simple, doesn't it? Within the Old World species there are five sub-species, and within the New World species there are eight sub-species. Okay, that may still not seem so bad. Thirteen different sub-species of quail. Within the five different sub-species of Old World quail there are 16 types of sub-species, and within the eight sub-species of New World quail there are twenty-nine different types of sub-species of quail. If you are as good at math as I am, that is a grand total of 1,298 types of sub-species of quail. However, upon utilizing the assitance of a calculator, the real number is more like 45 types of sub-species. And if that were not enough, many of the different types of sub-species are broken into smaller, more defined sub-species. It is, therefore, believed that the number of different types of quail are approximately 140 in total.
Birds of a feather do not always flock together. They have a wide range of areas in which they can be found, and in great number. Some can be found in Japan, some in New Zealand, some are found scattered throughout many different parts of Africa and South America, some throught Europe, and others are found from southern Canada to Guatemala. When the ancient Hebrews had complained to God there was not enough meat to eat He did not stop at a hanful of birds. He made sure there were plenty.
That is one place in the Bible they can be found. While the former Hebrew slaves were hiking through the desert in Numbers 11:1-35 they began complaining ... a lot. It seemed there was no end to their complaints. They were freed by God, led away from slavery by Moses, were fed manna, but still complained because they missed the food they were fed as slaves in Egypt. God answers prayers though. And so, He sent them meat to eat. Incoming quail. They had more quail than they knew what to do with.
We are told in a few different passages (Exodus 11:31-35, Exodus Exodus 16:11-13) that God had sent the quail in from the sea in the evening and night. Quail are one of the few birds who can actually migrate at night, and they do usually choose to migrate along the coasts in order to properly navigate which direction they are traveling. And so, God saw there were many enormous flocks of quail migrating, and sent them flocking towards the Israelites who were complaining. What a scene that must have been! There were so many that the Bible says they were one on top of another, measuring a height of two cubits. There were so many quail, sent by God, that they were crammed in on top of each other.
Quail are not exactly large birds at all. They are known to resemble the partridge, but smaller in size. While different species do differ somewhat in appearance, most quail do have brown feathers. You can often find them in open fields and bushy areas along the fields. Some sub-species can even be found in mountainous areas if there is enough food supply for them. Quail mainly eat seeds and berries, but will also consume leaves, roots and even some insects if necessary.
As we already know from the scriptures listed above, quail are rather edible. Quite, in fact. Many people who have cooked and consumed quail find it to be rather delicious. Their eggs are also considered to be very tasty as well. They are known to lay upto 12 rounded eggs at a time. Most people will roast or bake quail in the oven. However, the Hebrews being led through the desert had salted and dried them before consumption. Those were the pre-microwave days. As I had mentioned, quail are a smallish bird, usually about 5-8 inches in length, and about half a pound in weight. While not a large bird they often make for a good meal.
Most animals in the Bible are known to have more than one purpose. The quail, however, is only mentioned as an excellent source of food. And it came highly recommeded by God. The Hebrews in desert may have been given only massive amounts of quail to eat for a month until "it was coming out of their nostrils" but I recommend a much smaller amount for a healthy diet.
Do you have a favourite animal of the Bible? If so, feel free to tell us! God's creation is so detailed, with so many pieces of an intricate puzzle. And He left us in charge of it. I learn about His creation, not to praise the creation but, to better praise the Creator!