Turnix tankiyellow-legged buttonquail

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Geographic Range

These birds are found from India to Manchuria, Taiwan, and Hainan. They are also found in Myanmar (Finn, 1911; Rutgers and Norris, 1970) and the Nicobar and Andaman Islands (Johnsgard, 1991). (Finn, 1911; Johnsgard, 1991; Rutgers and Norris, 1970)

Habitat

Yellow-legged buttonquail prefer open sandy ground with patches of short, rough grass. (Johnsgard, 1991)

Physical Description

Females are larger than males, with a wing length of 79 to 93 mm. They are grayish-brown above. The collar is rufous, and the forehead and sides of the head are buff, tipped with black. The chin and mid-throat areas are whitish-buff, and the sides of the throat, chest, and breast are a rufous-buff. The crown is black and edged in buff, sometimes with a buff stripe down the middle of the head. The back, rump, upper tail coverts and feathers capping the wings are irregularly barred with fine dark brown to black markings and flecks of rufous. Primary coverts are blackish-brown, narrowly edged in buff. The rest of the coverts are buff with a subterminal black spot. The flanks and belly are whitish; most of the feathers on the sides of the chest and breast have a small subterminal round black spot. The iris may be straw-yellow to whitish. The beak is a reddish brown on top and chrome-yellow on the bottom. The legs and feet are chrome-yellow in color, and give this bird its common name.

The male, with a wing length of 71 to 84 mm, does not have the rufous collar, but has more of the black spotting on his upper parts than the female. The iris is whitish, the beak is a brownish color, and the legs and feet are a yellowish color.

At seven weeks of age, the chicks have adult plumage. In addition, the iris changes from a blackish color to a whitish color.

Adults weigh from 35 to 113 g. (Johnsgard, 1991)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range mass
    35 to 113 g
    1.23 to 3.98 oz

Reproduction

During the breeding season, the female utters a low-pitched booming whistle. The call has been described as a "guuk-guuk, guuk," which is repeated and can be heard at a distance of 100 m. After the first two notes are uttered, there is a pause, then louder notes or hoots are produced. After about the fifth repetition, the call becomes a moan that increases in intensity. While the female calls she bows her head and slightly droops her wings.

During courtship, the female will lower her breast to touch the ground with her tail pointing upward. She may make soft clucking sounds, while holding an insect in her beak for the male, in a tidbitting fashion.

All buttonquail are polyandrous. (Johnsgard, 1991)

Breeding begins in March. The nest may be domed and is made of hay or grasses in a shallow hollow in the ground. There are three eggs per clutch; the eggs hatch in only 12 days. The eggs are 23 mm by 18 mm and weigh 3 to 9 g. At ten days old, the chicks are able to fly. (Johnsgard, 1991)

  • Breeding season
    Breeding begins in March.
  • Average time to hatching
    12 days

The males are responsible for feeding the chicks. (Johnsgard, 1991)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • protecting
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • male

Lifespan/Longevity

We do not have information on lifespan/longevity for this species at this time.

Behavior

These buttonquail are rarely found in groups. (Johnsgard, 1991)

Home Range

We do not have information on home range for this species at this time.

Communication and Perception

During the breeding season, the female utters a low-pitched booming whistle. The call has been described as a "guuk-guuk, guuk," which is repeated and can be heard at a distance of 100 m. After the first two notes are uttered, there is a pause, then louder notes or hoots are produced. After about the fifth repetition, the call becomes a moan that increases in intensity. While calling, the female bows her head and slightly droops her wings.

During courtship, the female will lower her breast to touch the ground with her tail pointing upward. She may make soft clucking sounds, while holding an insect in her beak for the male, in a tidbitting fashion. The male utters a similar tidbitting call when he has food for the chicks. (Johnsgard, 1991)

Food Habits

Yellow-legged buttonquail feed on grain, grass seeds, green shoots from crops, ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and other insects. (Johnsgard, 1991)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts

Predation

We do not have informaton on predation for this species at this time.

Ecosystem Roles

Yellow-legged buttonquail have an impact on the populations of prey they consume and the plants they eat.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Yellow-legged buttonquail may eat insects that are harmful to humans and/or crops.

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Although yellow-legged buttonquail eat green shoots from crops, they have not been reported to be harmful to those crops.

Conservation Status

Turnix tanki are not listed by either CITES or the IUCN.

Other Comments

Yellow-legged buttonquail were first bred in captivity in 1903 by Seth-Smith. (Hopkinson, 1926)

Contributors

Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Janice Pappas (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

polyandrous

Referring to a mating system in which a female mates with several males during one breeding season (compare polygynous).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

Finn, F. 1911. Game Birds of India and Asia. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co.

Hopkinson, E. 1926. Records of Birds Bred in Captivity. London: H.F. & G. Witherby.

Johnsgard, P. 1991. Bustards, Hemipodes, and Sandgrouse: Birds of Dry Places. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rutgers, A., K. Norris. 1970. Encyclopedia of Aviculture, Vol. 1. London: Blandford Press.