Painted Button-quail

Did you know?

The female is larger and more colourful than the male, which is probably related to their breeding role-reversal.

A booming call similar to a Common Bronzewing, used in courtship and between pairs that have lost contact while foraging.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
Minimum Size: 
Maximum Size: 
Average size: 
Average weight: 
Breeding season: 
August to Februrary
Clutch Size: 
3 to 4
13 days
Nestling Period: 
0 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Atlas Number: 
What does it look like?

The female is the larger and more coloured of these small, plump, well-camoflaged ground-dwellers. The overall colouration is grey, with large white spots on the breast which fade to off-white around the legs and vent. The face has small black-edged white spots with a white eye-brow. The wings and back of the female are mostly chestnut, with white spots and black, white-edged bars on the wing. The male is similar but the chestnut colur is replaced with buff.

Similar species: 

The Painted Button Quail can be confused with the Buff-breasted Button Quail and the male Black-breasted Button Quail, but are generally sufficiently distinct that they can be identified without confusion in the areas where they occur.

Where does it live?

These birds range almost continuously, in appropriate habitat, from about the Atherton Tableland in Qld, round the coast to the Eyre Peninsula and north to the southern Flinders Ranges in SA, avoiding only the driest regions of Qld and NSW. A second population occurs in southwestern WA up to Shark Bay. They also occur in Tasmania and on all the larger, coastal islands.


Temperate and eastern tropical forests and woodlands form the habitats of this species. They appear to prefer closed canopies with some understory and deap leaf litter on the ground.

Seasonal movements: 

Very little is known about this species, but there is some indication that in places the Painted Button Quail is migratory or disperses for the winter, although this is not confirmed nor is it known where they go. However, in other places they appear to be resident year-round.

What does it do?

Painted Button Quail are active during the evening, night and early morning, feeding on the ground. They are usually seen in pairs or small family parties, searching for seeds, fruit, leaves and insects. They create distinctive "soup-plate" depressions when foraging, by spinning alternately on either leg and using the other to scrape away the leaf litter, leaving circular depressions in which they look for food.


While not much is known, the indications are that the female is polyandrous, that is, she courts a male, mates and lays his clutch of eggs, then leaves him and searches for a second male to repeat the process. Females in captivity have had 3-4 mates and clutches in a breeding season. The female builds a domed nest of leaves, sticks and grasses beneath a tussock of grass, or at the foot of a rock or sapling, and lays 3-4 eggs at a 2-3 day laying interval between each egg. The male incubates the eggs once the clutch is complete, and all the eggs hatch at the same time. The chicks leave the nest immediately and are only fed by the male for 7-10 days. The chicks can fly 10 days after leaving the nest.

Living with us

Although not much is known, the Painted Button Quail probably suffers like many species from the loss of habitat through clearance and degradation. Being a ground-dwelling bird it almost certainly suffers increased predation by introduced predators.

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