Wednesday 30 October 2019


The buff-breasted buttonquail (Turnix olivii) is the largest and possibly the rarest of the buttonquail. This species is endemic to Cape York Peninsula, in Queensland, Australia.

The buff-breasted buttonquail measures from 18–23 cm and usually weighs over 110 g. Both the tail and wings are short. The back is chestnut. The sides of the head are marked with chestnut on an otherwise plain grey head; while the breast is warm buff-coloured. The painted buttonquail and the brown quail both coexist with this species. The buff-breasted is larger (and longer-legged) than either and is quite different from the all-dark quail. The painted species is almost totally mottled, with bold white spotting on the breast and no warm buff coloration.

The most similar species to the buff-breasted is the chestnut-backed buttonquail, which does not overlap in the wild. The advertising (or booming) call made by the female is ooom-oom-oom, repeated up to 20 times. The notes are almost inaudible initially, then become gradually louder, higher-pitched and shorter until they are far-carrying. The males will respond with a deep, rapid chu-chu-chu whistle. Other calls, perhaps in reaction to danger, include gug-gug-gug, a soft chirp-chirp-chirp and a loud kwaare-kwaare.

The buff-breasted buttonquail is an endangered species, with a population estimated at 500 individuals and a historical range of 2,070 km2. They have been extirpated from large portions of their original range, probably due in part due to cattle overgrazing, sites made unsuitable by fire regimes and general habitat clearances to make way for human habitation. Very few people see the buff-breasted buttonquail due partially to its tiny range and also due to its inconspicuous disposition. They usually walk or run in areas where they are well camouflaged, almost never leaving the ground except when absolutely needed. They reside in the same areas usually, but local movements have been recorded, probably in response to seasonal habitat changes.

This post is part of the Wordless Wednesday meme,
and also part of the ABC Wednesday meme,
and also part of the Nature Notes meme.

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