Turnix variuspainted buttonquail

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Geographic Range

Turnix varius and its four subspecies are found throughout northeastern, eastern, and southern Australia, Tasmania (Hindwood, 1966), Kangaroo Island, Abrolhos Islands, and New Caledonia (Johnsgard, 1991). (Johnsgard, 1991)

Habitat

Painted buttonquail inhabit heatherlands, forest, and timbered ridges where it is dry and scrub is present for shelter. (Hindwood, 1966)

Physical Description

As with all buttonquail, these birds lack a hind toe (Hindwood, 1966). Wing length for females is approximately 111.4 mm, and 98.3 mm for males. They weigh 60 to 130 g. The more colorful female is generally black above with rufous barring which turns into chestnut. A dark gray spot on the center of the crown is surrounded by black with gray or rufous colored edging. Sides of the face and throat are white with black spots, and the chin and sides of the throat are white. The back of the neck is gray with terminal black and white spots. Just above the upper wings, the feathers are bright chestnut edged with gray and dotted with black and white. The back, upper wing feathers, rump, and upper tail coverts are gray and edged or barred with black and chestnut, with rufous tips and a submarginal white streak. Primary coverts are blackish-gray. Secondary wing coverts are buff-gray with fine black mottling. The rest of the wing coverts are gray with rufous tips and two or three white dots edged with black. The chest is gray with a pale buff shaft streak ending in a terminal black-edged spot. The breast is buff mottled with grey, and the feathers at the breast margins are chestnut with black-edged whititsh spots terminally. The abdomen and other underparts are pale buff (Johnsgard, 1991).

The male is similar in coloration to the female, except for the rufous area just above the upper wings. In addition, the male has more whitish spotting on his gray chest (Johnsgard, 1991).

The precocial chicks have striped down of buff colors, browns and black (Hindwood, 1966). The immature adults are similar in coloration to the male, except that they have duller plumage (Johnsgard, 1991). (Hindwood, 1966; Johnsgard, 1991)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range mass
    60 to 130 g
    2.11 to 4.58 oz

Reproduction

Prior to copulation, the female will run backwards and forwards in front of the male, or circle around him, with her tail erect and her crop puffed out (Johnsgard, 1991). During courtship, the female, faces the male and utters deep booming notes, while she squats with her tail erect and breast expanded almost touching the ground. The male will respond with faint clucking sounds. The female will stomp and scratch the ground and will present the male with food (Hindwood, 1966; Johnsgard, 1991). In addition, the female will defend her breeding territory (Johnsgard, 1991).

All buttonquail are polyandrous. (Hindwood, 1966; Johnsgard, 1991)

The breeding season is from September to March, except in Tasmania where the breeding season is from October to December (Johnsgard, 1991). Breeding can occur at other times of the year, depending on local conditions (Hindwood, 1966).

Painted buttonquail nest in a a shallow depression scraped in the ground that is lined with dead grasss and has a small hood. The nest is usually placed under a tuft of grass, a small shrub, or a fallen sapling (Hindwood, 1966).

The male incubates the eggs and attends to the chicks. Three to five eggs (Johnsgard, 1991) are laid by the female; they are 27 by 21 mm and whitish to light buff with dark flecks or spots (Hindwood, 1966). The eggs weigh approximately 3 to 7 g each. The male is the sole incubator, and the eggs hatch in 13 to 15 days. At 16 days the chicks are fully feathered (Johnsgard, 1991). (Hindwood, 1966; Johnsgard, 1991)

  • Breeding season
    The breeding season is from September to March (from October to December in Tasmania), but can occur at other times of the year, depending on local conditions.
  • Range eggs per season
    3 to 5
  • Range time to hatching
    13 to 15 days

The male incubates the eggs and attends to the precocial chicks. Three to five eggs (Johnsgard, 1991) are laid by the female; they are 27 by 21 mm and whitish to light buff with dark flecks or spots (Hindwood, 1966). The eggs weigh approximately 3 to 7 g each. The male is the sole incubator, and the eggs hatch in 13 to 15 days. For the first 10 days, the male feed the chicks. After this, the chicks are able to feed themselves (Johnsgard, 1991). (Hindwood, 1966; Johnsgard, 1991)

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

Lifespan/Longevity

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

Behavior

Females defend breeding territories. (Johnsgard, 1991)

Home Range

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

Communication and Perception

Prior to copulation, the female will run backwards and forwards in front of the male, or circle around him, with her tail erect and her crop puffed out (Johnsgard, 1991). During courtship, the female, faces the male and utters deep booming notes, while she squats with her tail erect and breast expanded almost touching the ground. The male will respond with faint clucking sounds. The female will stomp and scratch the ground and will present the male with food (Hindwood, 1966; Johnsgard, 1991). In addition, the female will defend her breeding territory (Johnsgard, 1991). (Hindwood, 1966; Johnsgard, 1991)

Food Habits

Foods eaten include seeds and insects (Hindwood, 1966). Where dead leaf litter is present, painted buttonquail will scratch small circular patches to look for food (Hindwood, 1966; Johnsgard, 1991). (Hindwood, 1966; Johnsgard, 1991)

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

Predation

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

Ecosystem Roles

Painted buttonquail have an impact on populations of their insect prey and the plants whose seeds they eat.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Painted buttonquail eat insects that may be pests to humans.

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of painted buttonquail on humans.

Conservation Status

Painted buttonquail are not listed by either the IUCN or CITES.

Other Comments

The only known captive-bred painted buttonquail were the result of D. Seth-Smith's efforts in 1905 (Hopkinson, 1926; Johnsgard, 1991). (Hopkinson, 1926; Johnsgard, 1991)

Contributors

Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

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

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

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.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

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

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).

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

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

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

territorial

defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical

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

visual

uses sight to communicate

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born

References

Hindwood, K. 1966. Australian Birds in Color. Sydney: A. H. & A. W. Reed.

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

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