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Chestnut-backed Buttonquail

Turnix castanotus

The Chestnut-backed Buttonquail, known scientifically as Turnix castanotus, is a fascinating avian species endemic to the diverse landscapes of Australia. This bird is a member of the Turnicidae family, which is distinct from true quails.

Identification Tips

When observing the Chestnut-backed Buttonquail, one can note that the female is typically larger and more vividly colored than the male, a trait that is quite unusual among birds. The species is named for its rich chestnut coloring on the back, which is a key feature for identification.


The natural habitats of this species include the low grasslands and Eucalyptus forests and woodlands. They show a preference for quartzite-sandstone ridges, plateaus, and escarpments, often in regions that experience substantial summer rainfall.


The Chestnut-backed Buttonquail is native to northern Australia, with its range extending from the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia to Westmoreland Station in the Gulf Country of northwestern Queensland. It is also found on Melville Island and Groote Eylandt.


Intriguingly, the Chestnut-backed Buttonquail exhibits reversed sexual roles within its genus. The more conspicuous female mates with multiple males and leaves the task of egg incubation to them. This species is not currently known to be common around Borroloola and McArthur River, and its presence in Queensland was only confirmed in recent years.


The female Chestnut-backed Buttonquail lays a clutch of 1 to 5 eggs, with 4 being the usual number. These eggs are pyriform in shape, glossy-white, and adorned with sparse small dark blotches.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List has classified the Chestnut-backed Buttonquail as Least Concern, indicating that, at present, there are no immediate threats to its population levels that would warrant a higher degree of conservation concern.

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Chestnut-backed Buttonquails on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Profile picture for Bryn Pickering
Bryn Pickering
03 Mar 2023 - 2:13pm

More Buttonquail

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

Barred Buttonquail

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