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

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. painted button quail
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  • An Australian Quail
  • Scientific Name: Turnix varia
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin: 2.. Nominate sub-species is T. v. varia. Other sub-species.. T. v. scintillans.
  • Origin / Distribution: Along the east coast of Australia from north Queensland to South Australia.  Also in Western Australia along the coast in the lower half of the state.  Also in Tasmania.
  • Habitat In Wild: Areas with shrub and trees with an under story of grasses and a good ground cover of leaf litter.  Will enter farmland and cultivated areas to obtain food.
  • Status In Wild: T. v. varia is secure but numbers are declining probably due to habitat loss.  T. v. scintillans restricted to the islands off the coast of Western Australia is listed as vulnerable.
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity: Secure.
  • Age To Sexual Maturity: ?
  • Adult plumage: attained at about ? months
  • Best breeding years (estimate): 6 months to about 3rd year
  • Sexing: Monomorphic / Dimorphic. Sexes are similar
  • Colour mutations: None
  • Availability: Bird dealers.
  • Temperament: Compatible with finches and small parrots.  Best results are in a planted aviary, with one pair per aviary (no additional cock birds).  Long grasses and low dense shrubs are ideal.  Generally less flighty than other button quail.  Generally easy to breed. 
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour (Approx) $70 - $80. Least expensive of the button quail.
  • Description Of Adults: Hens are generally larger and heavier than cock birds and they have brighter plumage.  Second biggest of the Button quail.
  1. Length: Up to approx. 200 mm (or up to approx. 8 inches)
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer photo/s above if available.
  3. Weight: Up to approx. 120 gms (or up to approx. 4 ozs)

The young can be as big as the adults by the age of 4 weeks.

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.

If 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.

The hen and cock bird/s can be kept together throughout the year.  One hen per aviary, but, more than one cock bird can be housed with each hen.

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

The young are fed insects only. The parent bird will transfer the insect from its beak into the chick's beak. This beak to beak feeding occurs for the first seven to about 10 days of the chick's life. After that the chicks will start to feed itself and eat grains as well as insects.


  • Nesting months: Spring and summer.  Most do not breed in the colder months, however, some may breed year round if conditions are suitable.
  • Nest location: On the floor in a nest usually at the back of the aviary in a secluded spot.
  • Nest material: They may build a substantial nest of dry grasses and other materials and lined with soft materials.
  • Who incubates the egg/s: Hen / Cock / both share.

Breeding: Egg Colour Greyish white with coloured speckles.  Clutch/s per year.. multiple - up to 4 is possible.  Eggs per nest  4 - 5.  Incubation approx. 14 days.  Independent approx. 3 -4 weeks.

Compatible with most finches, small parrots, doves and pigeons. Best breeding results are with one pair per aviary.  They develop strong pair bonds.  Easy to breed if the aviary is to their liking.  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.  Generally the hen does not get involved in the feeding and raising of the young.  The young will start to feed themselves during the second week.  The cock bird will offer the young food till they become independent at the about the 3rd or 4th week.

Instead of moving the hen after she has laid, the hen and cock bird/s can be kept together throughout the year.  One hen per aviary, but, more than one cock bird can be housed with each hen.  This requires less aviaries and makes for less handling of birds.

A spare aviary may be required to accommodate the young when they become fully independent.  Avoid over-crowding in the breeding birds aviary.

Adequate supply of insects is essential at breeding time.

The young grow rapidly and can be as big as the adults by the age of 4 weeks.  Leg ring all birds with closed numbered rings.  This is essential if the young are left in the same aviary as the parent birds.  Without numbered rings, it is often impossible to identify the breeding birds from their young when it comes to removing the young.

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 59 No. 12 Dec 2005 Page 277-281.
  • A/A Vol 59 No. 1 Jan 2005 Page 19-21.

  • A/A Vol 58 No. 2 Feb 2004 Page 35.
  • A/A Vol 57 No. 6 June 2003 Page 132-133.
  • A/A Vol 57 No. 3 Mar 2003 Page 65.
  • A/A Vol 54 No. 12 Dec 2000 Page 274-276
  • A/A Vol 50 No. 4 Apr 1996 Page 82-88
  • A/A Vol 47 No. 3 Mar 1993 Page 59-64 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 36 No. 12 Dec 1982 Page 274-277 (Inc photo)
  • A/A Vol 33 No. 3 Mar 1979 Page 40-42
  • A/A Vol 11 No 9 Sept 1957 Page 133-134.
  • A/A Vol 10 No 8 Aug 1956 Page 100.
  • A/A Vol  5 No 7 Jul 1951 Page 87-88.
  • A/A Vol  5 No 2 Feb 1951 Page 27.
  • A/A Vol  5 No 1 Jan 1951 Page 7.
  • A/A Vol  3 No 9 Sept 1949 Page 99.
  • Australian Birdkeeper

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