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Common Buttonquail

Turnix sylvaticus

The common buttonquail, also known as the Kurrichane buttonquail, small buttonquail, or Andalusian hemipode, is a species that bears a resemblance to the true quails, yet is not closely related to them. This diminutive bird, measuring a mere 15 cm in length, is adorned with streaked sandy brown upperparts and buff underparts, accented with black flank markings. Its face is unadorned and plain. When observed in flight, a whitish wingbar is noticeable against the grey wing. Both sexes present a similar appearance, though the immature birds exhibit more spotting below.

Identification Tips

The common buttonquail is a challenge to spot, often remaining hidden until one is nearly upon it. It is a small, drab running bird that prefers to avoid flight. When it does take to the air, it flies low and resettles quickly, making it difficult to flush a second time.


This species favors warm grasslands or scrub jungle, steering clear of dense forests and hilly terrain. It thrives in cornfields and grassy plains but can also be found in various types of low herbage and open scrub jungle.


The common buttonquail is a resident bird found from southern Spain and Africa through to India and tropical Asia, extending to Indonesia.


The common buttonquail is known for its elusive nature, skulking in its habitat and proving difficult to flush. When disturbed, it flies low and resettles quickly, often near the observer's feet. The female emits a deep hoom-hoom-hoom call, to which the male responds with a kek-kek-kek.

Song & Calls

The vocalizations of the common buttonquail include the female's deep hoom-hoom-hoom call and the male's kek-kek-kek reply.


The female buttonquail initiates courtship and constructs the ground nest. The male takes on the responsibility of incubating the typically four speckled greyish eggs and caring for the young, which are precocial and able to run immediately after hatching. The breeding season spans from June to September, with the nest being a simple pad of grass in a natural ground hollow, often concealed among grass tufts.

Conservation Status

The common buttonquail is classified as Least Concern globally due to its widespread distribution. However, the nominate subspecies in the Mediterranean region is critically endangered, having vanished from most of its range during the 20th century. It is now only found in Morocco, with Spain declaring the species extinct in 2018. In 2021, the IUCN also declared the buttonquail extinct in Europe, marking it as the first bird species to go extinct on the continent since the Great Auk in 1852.

Common Buttonquail Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Common Buttonquails on Birda


More Buttonquail

A photo of a Barred Buttonquail (Turnix suscitator) , male

Barred Buttonquail

Turnix suscitator
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