Quails are small birds. They are generally short winged, necked and tailed (although the genus Dendrortyx is long-tailed). The bills are short, slightly curved and serrated. The legs are short and powerful. Although they are capable of short bursts of strong flight quails prefer to walk, and will run from danger (or hide), taking off explosively only as a last resort. Plumage varies from dull to spectacular, and many species have ornamental crests or plumes on the head. Males have brighter plumage.
Quails are shy birds and generally live on the ground.
Northern Bobwhites and California Quail are popular gamebirds with many taken by hunters, but these species have also had their ranges increased in order to meet hunting demand and are not threatened.