Little vs Red-chested Button-quail

Subject: Little vs Red-chested Button-quail
From: Harvey Perkins <>
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 2000 17:21:26 +1000
Hi all,

While at Round Hill Nature Reserve on the October long weekend I happened
across a covey of four button-quail which quickly scuttled away and
disappeared in front of my eyes. One of them afforded me a quick look of
about a half second duration before it too vanished into the bushes. My
impression of it in that time was of a plain grey-brown bird, the colour of
old straw. (I'm not familiar with button-quail generally; I've ony seen
Littles once - flushed at night under spotlights with Phil Maher; and I've
not yet seen a Red-chested.) Looking up all my field guides, HANZAB and
other books when I got home didn't really help on an ID based on what I
saw, but I am assuming they were either Little or Red-chested. In my mind's
eye it was neither as rufous coloured as most Littles nor as dark as most
Red-chested as depicted in most Field Guides. I did not see any flank
colour, either reddish or white, I couldn't say what colour its eyes were,
nor its bill.  They certainly scuttled away, but I wouldn't be able to say
whether it was mouse-like. I didn't see any rocking back and forth (what a
shame you only find out what to look for after the event)

They were in the "Old Field", in a patch that was better treed and shrubbed
than most of the field, and seemed to be associated specifically with the
low acacia shrubs in that particular location. Platelets were obvious under
a number of bushes, being about 13-15 cm in diameter and often very close
together, sometimes virtually contiguous. In some cases there were up to
about 20 platelets under a single bush in an area of about 1.5 sq metres.
The only other platelets I had seen were in the leaf litter under one of
the scattered eucalypts in the field. (HANZAB makes no specific mention of
platelets for either Little or Red-chested Button-quail - only in the
accounts for Painted and Black-breasted are they mentioned.)

About ten minutes after first disturbing them I inadvertantly flushed one
which flew away on whirring wings, but I had been facing the other way so
didn't get to see it very well and didn't see how far it flew or how it
went down (again, what a shame you only find out what to look for after the

My question is, does what I have written here provide any indication to
knowledgable birders as to what species they might have been.

Other birds seen in the "Old Field" were several Grey-fronted Honeyeaters
(a tick), quite a few Black Honeyeaters (a few seen but lots heard
calling), a few White-fronted Honeyeaters and some Splendid Fairy-wrens.

Other birds in the nearby mallee included lots of White-eared and
Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters, White-fronted and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters,
Grey Shrike-thrush, Rufous Whistlers, Spotted (Yellow-rumped) Pardalotes,
Brown-headed Honeyeaters, Shy Heathwrens, Weebill, the occasional Noisy
Friarbird, Common Bronzewing and a Bar-shouldered Dove. Masked and
White-browed Woodswallows and Little Eagle were seen overhead.


Dr Harvey D. Perkins                    ::                              :
Divn Biochemistry & Molecular Biology   ::  Editor,                     :
Australian National University          ::  Canberra Bird Notes,        :
Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia           ::  Journal of the Canberra     :
ph: (02) 6249 2693; fax:(02) 6249 0313  ::  Ornithologists Group (COG)  :
and:                                    ::  42 Summerland Circuit,      :
Pest Animal Control                     ::  Kambah, ACT 2902            :
Cooperative Research Centre (PAC CRC)   ::  Ph: (02) 6231 820           :

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