Painted buttonquail

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Painted buttonquail
Adult painted buttonquail; mainland subspecies
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Turnicidae
Genus: Turnix
T. varius
Binomial name
Turnix varius
(Latham, 1801)
Distribution of the painted button quail
  • Turnix varia (Latham, 1801) (lapsus)
  • Turnix novaecaledoniae

The painted buttonquail (Turnix varius) is a species of buttonquail, the family Turnicidae, which resemble, but are unrelated to, the quails of Phasianidae. This species is resident in Australia where numbers are believed to be in decline. A subspecies, the Abrolhos painted buttonquail (Turnix varius scintillans), is endemic to the Houtman Abrolhos islands.


The painted buttonquail was first described by the English ornithologist John Latham in 1801 under the binomial name Perdix varia.[2]

"Painted buttonquail" has been designated the official name by the International Ornithologists' Union (IOC).[3]

Two subspecies are recognised.[3]

The possibly-extinct New Caledonian buttonquail (Turnix novaecaledoniae) of New Caledonia was formerly considered conspecific, but was split as a distinct species by the IOC in 2021.[4]


Chicks (mainland subspecies) adopting a defensive posture

The painted buttonquail is about 19 to 20 cm (7.5 to 7.9 in) long. It is a ground-dwelling bird and is found in grassy forests and woodlands. It feeds on insects and seeds, and the males incubate the eggs for a fortnight and then care for the young.

The female is the more brightly coloured of the sexes. Her eyes are red, and her crown, face and breast are flecked with white. Her shoulders are chestnut with thin white streaking above them. The male is slightly smaller and duller in colour.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The painted buttonquail is native to Australia. Its range extends from Queensland southwards to New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. A separate population is present in the southwestern part of Western Australia. The subspecies Turnix varius scintillans is endemic to the Houtman Abrolhos islands off the west coast of Australia.

The painted buttonquail became established on Rottnest Island around 2002.[5]


The painted buttonquail has a wide range. An estimate of the population size has not been made but numbers are suspected to be in decline. It is said to be common in suitable habitat in some areas and uncommon in others. The IUCN has listed it as being of "Least Concern".[6]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Turnix varius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T62288672A95193778. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T62288672A95193778.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ Latham, John (1801). Supplementum indicis ornithologici sive systematis ornithologiae (in Latin). London: Leigh & Sotheby. p. lxiii.
  3. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2021). "Buttonquail, thick-knees, sheathbills, plovers, oystercatchers, stilts, painted-snipes, jacanas, Plains-wanderer, seedsnipes". World Bird List Version 12.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  4. ^ "Species Updates – IOC World Bird List". Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  5. ^ Saunders, Denis A.; de Rebeira, C. P. (2009). "A case study of the conservation value of a small tourist resort island: Birds of Rottnest Island, Western Australia 1905–2007" (PDF). Pacific Conservation Biology. 15: 11–31. doi:10.1071/PC090011. S2CID 87832707. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-02-26.
  6. ^ "Species factsheet: Turnix varius". BirdLife International. Retrieved 2013-12-16.

External links[edit]