Painted Button Quail in the ACT

To: con <>
Subject: Painted Button Quail in the ACT
From: martin butterfield <>
Date: Tue, 20 Oct 2009 16:45:44 +1100
Shortly after we moved to Carwoola (in January 2007) Frances found a Painted Button-quail lurking under our chook-house.  Each time we disturbed it by gardening in the vicinity it scampered off into some dense nearby Kunzea ericifolia.  A few weeks later - with intermitten sightingsin the meantime - the COG wednesday walkers came for a visit.  They lined up, the bird duly appeared, and has not been seen since.  Neither have any platelets despite quite a lot of time spent searching.


On Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 4:00 PM, con <> wrote:
In the past month, Painted Button Quail have been reported from:

Black Mountain Nature Reserve (including a male and female at the same time)
Mulligan's Flat Nature Reserve
Gungahlin Hill Nature Reserve
Mount Majura
Cooleman Hill
a private garden

They appear to be more common and better-distributed than the Annual Reports would suggest. (Or, perhaps, this is a good drought-breaking year for the ACT).

I have also received reports of sightings from other Nature Reserves in previous years. We don't have answers to quite basic questions about the Painted Button Quail. These questions include: Are there seasonal movements? What is their preferred habitat in the ACT? How common are they? It is not even clear whether they are always, or just sometimes, polyandrous. (They are difficult to study in the wild and I understand most info comes from aviary observations - I haven't read the HANZAB entry on PBQs, so may be wrong there).

The easiest way to check on the absence or presence of PBQs is the existence of platelets. PBQs make these oval platelets,  usually about 8 cm wide and about 10cm long, by pivoting on one legs an scratching vigorously with the other. The litter is cleared either to the soil level or the top layer of litter is removed and a moister layer of litter is exposed. The platelets are usually separated by a couple of centimetres. It is quite common to come across half a dozen or so in a row as the bird has moved along a transect. However, in one favoured location, I have counted over 200 platelets. In areas of deep litter the platelets are often shorter in diameter. Sometimes the scratchings are disorganised and not in platelet shape.

We have also discovered that if you want a really good look at the birds, 'dead slow' or 'stopped' is the right speed to be travelling. Simply start where there is evidence of fresh digging and move very slowly or simply move away a bit, sit down, and wait. They are beautiful to see and well worth the patience. On the other hand, running, or walking very briskly is likely to make them flush or make them run off well ahead of where you are.

Any observations on the above views, or any additional sightings of platelets or birds or behaviour would be welcome.



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