Great Birding Moments # 28 Painted Button-Quail

This great birding moment was quite unexpected. A few days ago were invited over to our friends’ farm for a meal. We had just driven out of our driveway and headed up the hill towards their farm; it’s about a half hour’s drive. We’d driven several kilometres when I had to slow down for a sharp bend in the road. As we approached the corner I observed two birds sitting in the shade of a roadside tree. I didn’t immediately identify them but as I steered around them I was aware that it was a pair of Quail.

Now quails are a family of birds I don’t often see, so just around the corner I was able to do a quick U-turn and go back for a good look. This was quite safe as it is a quiet country road. They were still sitting there in the middle of the road and I was able to pull up about 2 metres from them. It was a male and female – I assume a pair – of Painted Button-Quail, only the third time I had ever seen this bird.

They stood there for about a minute before skulking off into the grass and undergrowth on the side of the road. This made us a few minutes late for our dinner engagement, but it didn’t matter as our hosts weren’t ready when we arrived anyway.

Of course I was annoyed I didn’t have my camera with me. Will I ever learn? So to see a photo of this beautiful species you will have to click on the link below.



5 Responses to “Great Birding Moments # 28 Painted Button-Quail”

  1. Snail says:

    That’s the rule. No camera to hand when there’s something interesting about!

    Happy 2007!

  2. Sulphur Crested White Cockatoo says:

    My wife and I once found a painted button quail cowering & terrified in a doorway off the street in Macleay Street, Potts Point – that’s Kings Cross, Sydney. It did not seem to be injured or obviously sick, just completely out of place, so we captured it and gave it over to WIRES (wildlife rescue) the next day. I never did learn what happened to the poor thing though.

  3. Trevor says:

    Hi Snail – who made up THAT rule??? Was it an Irishman called Murphy??

    Still – if I carry the camera often enough I should one day get lucky. One day.

    In fairness – I have had some great opportunities to get great photos over this last year. If 2007 is half as good I’ll be happy.

    Happy birding etc in 2007 to you too.

  4. Trevor says:

    Hi there Scot,

    What on earth was that Painted Button Quail doing there?? Was it visiting some relatives at Taronga Park Zoo and forgot to pack its street directory?

    In fairness, it is found throughout most of NSW so it wasn’t really out of its range. It’s just that it was in a rather strange habitat at the time.

    I wonder if it was an aviary escapee?

  5. Sulphur Crested White Cockatoo says:


    That’s what I thought it might have been (an escapee), but it was terribly nervous of being handled and didn’t exactly like being in a box awaiting pickup, but then even domesticated quails might be nervy like the wild ones, I don’t know. They’re not strong flyers are they?

    The problem with the source being a nearby aviary that breed quails is that this sounds to me just as unlikely as it being a wild one. Not really aviary territory. Do pigeon fanciers / racers tend to keep quails as well? There might still be some pigeon coops high up on some buildings I suppose.

    The other possibility is that there are/were a small flock of them in the nearby Domain and Botanic Gardens and from whence it strayed. There are a lot of quite interesting species spotted in there (cockatoos, galahs, at least one corella, plus a powerful owl, and some buff banded rails, amongst others). I guess if the rails can survive in the regenerated long native grass, quails might too.

    Also a couple of kms north straight across the harbour and several kms east there are numerous small national parks. Additionally there is Centennial Park maybe 2 or 3 kms south-east. That’s got a huge diversity of birdlife in it (fairy wrens a-plenty) and quite enough of quail habitat I’d imagine. But that’s 2 or 3 kms of continuous, hard, dense, urban inner-eastern Sydney it had to have got through.

    My wife suggested perhaps it hitched a ride from the countryside, I thought unlikely, but some callous bastard might have kidnapped it I suppose.

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