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Quail-plover

Ortyxelos meiffrenii

The quail-plover, also known as the lark buttonquail or lark-plover, is a diminutive and ground-dwelling avian, a unique member of the buttonquail family Turnicidae. Its plumage is a harmonious blend of sandy-rufous across the upperparts, with predominantly whitish underparts, presenting a rather lark-like appearance when in flight.

Identification Tips

When observing this species, one may note the short tail and the distinctive wing pattern that becomes apparent during flight. The white primary coverts contrast sharply with the black and white-tipped remiges, creating a striking diagonal band on the upperwing. The females exhibit a slightly darker hue than the males, while the juveniles appear paler.

Habitat

The quail-plover favors dry grasslands and thorn scrub, environments where it can blend seamlessly with the earthy tones of its surroundings.

Distribution

This species is native to the Sahel region of Africa, stretching from southern Mauritania and northern Senegal eastwards to northern Cameroon and southern Chad, and into South Sudan and southern Sudan. Disjunct populations are also found in northern Benin, coastal Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

Behaviour

The quail-plover is typically encountered alone or in pairs, exhibiting a skulking behavior as it stealthily navigates through grass or runs in the open like a courser. When approached, it tends to crouch and hide, taking flight in a jerky, undulating manner only when an observer is in close proximity. This species is known to breed during the dry season and migrates northward ahead of the rains. It is more active nocturnally and emits a soft, low whistle reminiscent of wind passing through a pipe on moonlit nights.

Conservation status

With an extensive range, the quail-plover's population trend remains unknown. There is no evidence of a rapid decline that would warrant concern, and the population size has not been quantified. Consequently, the species is currently evaluated as Least Concern.

References

  • BirdLife International (2016). "Ortyxelos meiffrenii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22680603A92867780. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22680603A92867780.en.
  • Borrow, Nik; Demey, Ron (2001). Birds of Western Africa. A & C Black. ISBN 0-7136-3959-8.
  • Zimmerman, Dale A.; Turner, Donald A.; Pearson, David J. (1996). Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania. Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7136-3968-7.
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