Turnix hottentottusblack-rumped buttonquail

Geographic Range

Hottentot buttonquail range from Ghana and Cameroon east to Uganda and Kenya and south to the northeastern part of Angola and Cape Province (Johnsgard, 1991). Some subspecies may range as far west as Sierra Leone and as far north as Sudan (Clancy, 1967). These birds are migratory and winter in the Sahel zone just below the Sahara (Johnsgard, 1991). (Clancy, 1967; Johnsgard, 1991)


Hottentot buttonquail are found in grasslands and on the fringes of marshes where the grass is less dense. They are also found on scrub lands with thin stands of grasses and low bushes as well as fallow fields and gardens (Clancy, 1967). These buttonquail are adapted to arid regions (Johnsgard, 1991). (Clancy, 1967; Johnsgard, 1991)

Physical Description

On average, female hottentot buttonquail are 15 cm long, and males are 14 cm long. They weigh between 40 and 62 g. Females are black above with rufous mottling. Most of the feathers of the crown are back and edged in white. The rump and upper tail feathers are black. The rest of the head, the sides of the throat, and upper breast are buff, while the feathers capping the wings are a golden buff color. Feathers on the sides of the neck and breast are barred with black and white. Wing coverts are brownish-black and the outer primaries have a partial buff margin; the wing feathers are mottled with light red, buff and white, and barred with black. Wing tips are white. The lower breast and abdomen are buff grading to white. There are heavy blackish-brown spots on the breast, over the sides of the body and on the flanks. (Clancy, 1967; Johnsgard, 1991)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range mass
    40 to 62 g
    1.41 to 2.19 oz
  • Range length
    14 to 15 cm
    5.51 to 5.91 in


All buttonquail are polyandrous.

Breeding occurs during or just after the rainy season. Mating occurs in South Africa from October to January, in Zimbabwe from September to February, in Malawi in April, in Nigeria in December and January, and in Kenya from May to July and October (Johnsgard, 1991).

The nest is a scrape (Clancy, 1967) or a scant pad of grass blades on the ground, under the canopy of a green or dried grass tuft (Johnsgard, 1991). Clutch size is two to six eggs; males incubate for 12 to 14 days (Johnsgard, 1991). The eggs are pyriform in shape, yellowish with light and dark brown speckles, and are 23 to 25 mm by 17 to 20 mm (Clancy, 1967). (Clancy, 1967; Johnsgard, 1991)

  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs during or just after the rainy season.
  • Range eggs per season
    2 to 6
  • Range time to hatching
    12 to 14 days

Male hottentot buttonquail incubate the eggs for 12 to 14 days. (Johnsgard, 1991)

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


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


Little is known about this buttonquail since it is uncommon in its native habitat (Clancy, 1967). (Clancy, 1967)

Home Range

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

Communication and Perception

The females utter a series of low-pitched, "hoo" notes that resonate. (Johnsgard, 1991)

Food Habits

Hottentot buttonquail eat grasses, weeds, insects and their larvae, and other invertebrates. (Clancy, 1967)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves


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

Ecosystem Roles

Hottentot buttonquail have an impact on the prey and plants they eat.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

As a result of their food habits, these buttonquail may help control weed and insect pests.

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

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

Conservation Status

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


Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

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



living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

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.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


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.


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).


marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.


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.


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


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


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


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


uses touch to communicate

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.


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.


uses sight to communicate


Clancy, P. 1967. Gamebirds of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Purnell & Sons Ltd.

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