Black breasted Button Quail
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. black breasted button quail
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  • An Australian Quail
  • Scientific Name:  Turnix melanogaster
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin:  None.
  • Origin / Distribution:  Eastern Queensland and northern New South Wales.
  • Habitat In Wild:  Edges of rainforests in eastern Australia.
  • Status In Wild:  Rare and declining due to habitat loss and predation by feral introduced animals.
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity:  Rare
  • Age To Sexual Maturity:  about 5 - 6 months.
  • Best breeding years (estimate):  6 months to about 3rd year
  • Lifespan (estimate):  approx. ? years 
  • Sexing:  Monomorphic / Dimorphic
  • Colour mutations:  None
  • Availability:  Specialist breeders and some bird dealers.
  • Temperament:  Shy, timid birds when people are nearby.  They can be strongly territorial and inflict injury or death on finches or other newly introduced birds in the aviary.  Strong fliers and wing feather clipping can be used to minimize them hitting the roof when startled.  Best results are in planted aviaries and they prefer a layer of leaf litter on the floor.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour (Approx.) $200
  • Description Of Adults: Largest of the Turnix quail. Hens are larger than the cock birds and they have brighter plumage.
  1. Length: Up to 180 mm (or approx 6 - 7 inches)
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ):  Refer photo/s above if available.
  3. Weight: Up to 120 gms (or up to 4 ozs)

Aviary Notes:

Level Of Knowledge Required: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.

Government Regulations & By-Laws:  Refer to " Government Laws " web page.

Housing Requirements:  Refer to " Quail " web page for general details on the housing of Quail or read on for specific details for this bird.

Compatible with most finches, small parrots, doves and pigeons. Best breeding results are with one pair per aviary.  Likes to have low growing shrubs with leaf litter and growing tall grasses or cereal grains (eg. wheat) will help this species feel happy and secure.  These birds tend to do a lot of floor scratching so a generous layer of leaf litter is appreciated and will keep them active and healthy.  These birds like to scratch or dig "holes" in the earthen floors and these craters are called platelets.  Care must be taken to ensure these quail have not scratched the soil and/or floor litter into the food or water bowls.

This species should be the only ground dwelling bird in the aviary.  Problems can occur with finches etc. that spend a lot of time at floor level or use the floor space as their courtship, or mating site.

If these quail are startled they tend to fly off the floor at a steep angle and often hit the roof at a solid speed.  This can cause severe head injuries or at worst the death of the quail.  Wing feather clipping can minimize this potential problem.  Wing feather clipping also minimizes the risk of the quail flying into or onto the finch nesting sites and disturbing the nesting or roosting finches and/or small parrots.

Quail that are noisy, especially in the morning, should be housed in an aviary most distant away from neighbours.

Diet / Feeding:   Refer to " Quail " web page for general details on the feeding of Quail or read on for specific details for this bird.

Good quality finch or small parrot mix plus insects and vegetable green foods and seeding grasses as per "Quail" web page.  May eat some of the commercial poultry pellets.  Adequate supply of insects is essential at breeding time.  Mealworms, crickets, small locusts/grasshoppers, cockroaches etc can be offered.


  • Nesting months:  May breed year round.  Seasons spring to autumn are generally the most productive.
  • Nest location:  On the floor in a nest usually at the back of the aviary in a secluded spot often behind or beside a solid object..
  • Nest material:  They may build a substantial nest of dry grasses and other materials and line the nest with soft materials.
  • Who incubates the egg/s: Hen / Cock / both share.

Breeding: Egg Colour Off white with coloured spots.  Clutch/s per year =  multiple.  Eggs per nest  3 - 4.  Incubation approx. 16 days.  Independent approx  4 - 5 weeks.

The hen is usually the dominant bird.  The cock birds are usually very good parents, feeding, protecting and caring for all the young.  Adequate supply of insects is essential at breeding time.

Compatible with most finches, small parrots, doves and pigeons. Best breeding results are with one pair per aviary.  Once the hen has laid a full clutch many aviculturalists will remove the hen so the cock bird is not distracted from his duty of incubating the eggs and raising the young.  When the babies hatch the cock bird supplies food from his beak directly into the babies beak.  After all the eggs have hatched the cock bird may take the young to another part of the aviary and not return to the nest.  Generally the hen does not get involved in the feeding and raising of the young.  The young will start to feed themselves after about the second week.  The cock bird will offer the young food till they become independent at the about the 4th or 5th week.

When the young are fully independent and have been placed into another aviary, the hen can be returned to the aviary and start another clutch of eggs.

Artificial incubation and hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site.  It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here.

Health Issues:  Refer to "Avian Health Issues" web page for information and references.

  • Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new bird/s or sick bird/s are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site.  Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page option.
  • Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace.  Keep updating your knowledge and skills.

General References:  Refer to references listed on "Book References" web page.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture
  • A/A Vol 54 No. 3 Mar 2000 Page 49-51 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 50 No. 11 Nov 1996 Page 257-262
  • A/A Vol 50 No. 4 Apr 1996 Page 82-88
  • A/A Vol 47 No. 10 Oct 1993 Page 248-250
  • A/A Vol 46 No. 7 July 1992 Page 157-160
  • A/A Vol 30 No. 8 Aug 1976 Page 130-134
  • A/A Vol 17 No 10 Oct 1963 Page 136-140.
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 14 Issue 8. Apr-May 2001 Page 447-449 (Inc photos).
  • ABK Vol  3 Issue 3. Jun-July 1990 Page 122-124

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