Aust birds    Bird names   News   1-26    Habitats    Key plants    Glossary    Plumage    Nests    Tips    Thumbnails    Gen. info    Sponsors    Photos for sale   
NON-PASSERINES     1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10     11     12     13     14 15     16     17     18     19     20     21     22     23     24     25     26     PASSERINES
Common names sorted alphabetically: A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   W   Y  

8

Painted Button-quail

(Turnix varius)
Alternate name(s): "Painted Quail", "Butterfly Quail*", "Scrub Quail", "Varied Quail"
Aboriginal name(s): "boorolom", "moorolom" (WA)

Size: 17-19 cm (male), 18-23 cm
Weight: 53-83 g (male), 72-130 g (female)

Similar
species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Painted Button-quail at Wikipedia .

Click here for classification information

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "varius"

ADULT

MALE

Near-lateral view of a male(?) Painted Button-quail (photo courtesy of M. Fleming)
[Trinkey SCA, near Tambar Springs, NSW, November 2020]

Lateral view of a male(?) Painted Button-quail - note the rather small rufous shoulder patch (photo courtesy of E. Scott)
[Roseberry Creek Valley, near Toonumbar NP, northern NSW, February 2018]

Partly obscured lateral view of a male(?) Painted Button-quail (photo courtesy of E. Scott)
[Roseberry Creek Valley, near Toonumbar NP, northern NSW, February 2018]

Lateral view of a male(?) Painted Button-quail (photo courtesy of M. Fleming)
[Trinkey SCA, near Tambar Springs, NSW, November 2020]

Male Painted Button-quail hiding under a dead branch after being disturbed by a group of nature lovers on a spotlighting trip
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2009]

FEMALE

Lateral view of a female Painted Button-quail; note the extended rufous patches along the side
(photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Dryandra Woodlands, near Narrogin, WA, May 2018]

Lateral view of a female(?) Painted Button-quail in mellow light (photo courtesy of E. Scott)
[Roseberry Creek Valley, near Toonumbar NP, northern NSW, October 2016]

Lateral view of a female(?) Painted Button-quail in shady conditions (photo courtesy of E. Scott)
[Roseberry Creek Valley, near Toonumbar NP, northern NSW, October 2016]

Lateral view of a female(?) Painted Button-quail hiding in undergrowth (photo courtesy of M. Fleming)
[Trinkey SCA, near Tambar Springs, NSW, November 2020]

Near-dorsal view of a female Painted Button-quail, with an example of the excellent camouflage provided by their cryptic plumage (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Dryandra Woodlands, near Narrogin, WA, May 2018]

Sex unknown

Painted Button-quails on sandy soil (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Cooloola NP, QLD, January 2019]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Male Painted Button-quail with two of four chicks (photo courtesy of C. Abbott)
[Yengo NP, NSW, December 2016]

Male Painted Button-quail with three of four chicks (photo courtesy of C. Abbott)
[Yengo NP, NSW, December 2016]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Feb Eggs: 3 - 4 Incubation period: ca. 14 days Fledging age: precocial

The period listed in the table above is a core breeding period for Painted Button-quail in the southern parts of their range. In the northern parts they can breed any time of the year.

Painted Button-quail eggs hatch all on the same day. Chicks are fed by the male for about 7-10 days after leaving the nest and can fly only 10 days after leaving the nest.

Quail vs. Button-quail

Although the two genera of the true quails, Coturnix, and the button-quails, Turnix, are outwardly very similar, and therefore often listed together, there are significant differences between them (which is the reason why they are in different family groups here).

Genus Coturnix Turnix
Common name True quails Button-quails
Similar species Chicken-like Wader-like
Toes 4 toes, one of which points backward 3 toes, all of which point forward
Nesting habits Communal Non-communal
Main incubator Female Male
Incubation period ca. 21 days ca. 14 days
No. of eggs 8-12 ≤ 4

Nest building: ? Incubation: Male Dependent care: Male

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Grass lining Height above ground: N/A

Painted Button-quail nest hidden in tall grass; who can find the bird sitting on the nest? (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2017]

View from above of a Painted Button-quail nest with 4 eggs in it (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2017]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 27 x 20 mm Colour: Light-grey, with dark-grey speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Close look at four Painted Button-quail eggs (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2017]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

Apart from various other callers in the background, the recording below, obtained on 15 August 2021, has a complex sequence of calls made by an interacting pair of Painted Button-quails: 1. Rather high-pitched rapid, almost trilling, calls by the male (4-8 sec), 2. a soft triple "boom" by the female (9-10 sec), 3. more rapid calls by the male (18-31 sec; 55 sec - 1:15 min), 4. first only two, then a long sequence of booming calls by the female (1:16-1:17 min; 1:18-1:53 min), 5. these are in part accompanied by a series of slower-paced and also lower-pitched calls by the male (1:34-2:20 min), with shuffling of feet audible as well.

pbquail_20210815.m4a (NW NSW) Various (interacting pair) © MD

We have also been able to record the wing beat of a Painted Button-quail.

pbquail_20210815_2.m4a (NW NSW) Alarm/departure © MD

More Painted Button-quail sound recordings are available at xeno-canto.org .

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.