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Buff-breasted Button-quail (Turnix olivii)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 160512503

Increasing our understanding of the distribution, life history and ecology of the endangered Buff-breasted Button-quail Turnix olivii - Phase 2

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 160512503) - Buff-breasted Button-quail - Awarded $4,000 on April 04, 2016

The endangered Buff-breasted Button-quail Turnix olivii of north Queensland, Australia remains as elusive as ever. There is still no photograph of a live bird in the wild available, nor do we yet have a confirmed recording of vocalisations of the species obtained by observing calling birds. This is a genuinely rare species, which is also cryptic and shy in its behaviour, thus making it difficult to study. We are still in pursuit of a good photograph and recordings, in order to assist our studies. 

Our surveys early this year located an enclave of Buff-breasted Button-quail at a previously unrecorded site, to the west of Mt Molloy where the species has occurred in previous years. At the new site, we collected and identified plants and observed and identified insect populations that could have been potential food for the species. Previous observations by the naturalist William McLennan in 1921 revealed both seeds and insects in the guts of specimens that he shot. However there was no further detail as to the identity of those seeds or insects.

Plants of potential importance to the diet that we collected included a number of grass species that offer seeds with considerable nutritional value and moisture content such as millets of the genera Panicum spp. and Setaria spp. Flushes of grasshoppers (Order Orthoptera, Family Acrididae) and cicadas (Order Hemiptera, Family Cicadidae) were also observed. These were likely to have provided a good source of protein and moisture for the button-quail. These observations are the first attempt to categorise in a more detailed way, the potential diet of the Buff-breasted Button-quail and to document relevant flora and fauna within their habitat. Such information will be of benefit to the recovery and conservation of this species. 


Project documents