Before everyone gets excited - a few corrections to Keith's note are necessary.
It is not the middle of the breeding season for Buff-breasted Button-quail -
they are a wet season breeder - from about late February to early April, mostly
March. They are just starting to arrive into this area - my earliest record
has been in the last few days of November. If we get heavy rains in the next
month or so, the grass will become dense and they will vacate the area before
breeding. At the moment, the grass is VERY sparse, something which the
Buff-breasted seem to like.
I have spent many hours in that area recently, mostly sitting around trying to
get a large number of calls of Cicadabirds. There is almost nothing breeding
there at the moment - just a pair of Noisy Friarbirds and Spangled Drongo
building nests. Painted Button-quail are not calling well indicating that they
have not started to breed. The dry tropics and the breeding seasons are so very
different from subtropical and temperate areas, being governed by the wet and
the dry and there really is no such thing as a general breeding season.
I have been following Buff-breasted Button-quail in these areas for nearly 20
years and as far as I am concerned no damage was done. Had it been in February
or March, I might have been concerned but then the area is very extensive and
the density of the birds is always very low.
As far as sound and playback are concerned, that certainly is the way to go.
Painted in that area respond well to playback and I should imagine
Buff-breasted would do the same. However, as far as I know the call of the
Buff-breasted has never been recorded. One of our main aims has been to record
the genuine call of the BB but because of their scarcity and their propensity
to vacate when the grass grows too dense, we have been unsuccessful. The last
breeding in those areas as far as I have been able to determine was in the mid
The only minor damage if one could call it that may have been that all the
attention may have forced the birds to move into a nearby flat bordering
When W. McLennan followed the birds and found a number of nests (11) around
Coen in 1922, he found that there was considerable predation by goannas. There
are very few goannas here now these days probably because of the introduction
of the cane toad so it is probably a plus for the BBBQ, not that it seems to
have helped their numbers.
Mt Molloy, Nth Qld
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