little button quail

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Subject: little button quail
From: "Andrew Stafford" <>
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2007 10:23:38 +1000
Your observation of chameleon-like button quail movements tallies precisely with a conversation I had with Dion Hobcroft a few days ago regarding an encounter he had with Chestnut-backed Button-quails in the Northern Territory. Chameleons use the same technique as disruptive camouflage when disturbed; it's one of the reasons why button-quail are usually so difficult to spot on the ground prior to flushing. I disagree with your statement "they didn't realise I was there" - they would have been more than aware (let's face it, you would have been hard to miss from a bird's point of view!) and their cryptic behaviour is a manifestation of that awareness.
On 20/1/07 I was birding the area behind the telegraph station and in getting a good luck at female brown songlark I came up slowly to base of acacia bush. Fortunately there were a pair of little button quail who didn't realise that I was there and I was able to observe them at close range feeding.  The female had beautiful pink blush and a black line  near her ear.  What was intriguing though was the way of walking of the quail. They rocked forward in a manner as if there feet were glued to the ground and after a number of times of this they would then take a step. The same would occur when they were reaching out to feed on some vegetation-the head would rock towards it in the glued feet manner before finally taking a piece of vegetaiton in the beak. I stood motionless and the quails constantly checked out both sides of the bush, seemingly for danger.


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