Hemipodius melanogaster Gould, 1837, Moreton Bay, Queensland. Possibly related to T. suscitator–T. nigricollis group, though more likely to T. varia group.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Turnix а poitrine noire; German: Schwarzbrust- Laufhьhnchen; Spanish: Torillo Pechinegro.
6.7–7.5 in (17–19 cm); male 1.8–4.5 oz (50–127 g), female 2.8–5.6 oz (80–159 g). Large buttonquail with slender bill and pale eyes. Female mottled gray and brown, with black head and breast spotted white. Male smaller, duller, and grayer, lacking black. Juvenile smaller, duller, and more mottled on foreparts.
Small area of central eastern coast of Australia, in southeastern Queensland, and extreme northeastern New South Wales.
Rainforest, other moist forest, and vine thickets with deep leaf litter. Able to use mature (50 years old) indigenous hoop pine (Araucaria) plantations with a closed canopy and well-developed understory, but adversely affected by clearcut logging. In fragmented rainforest within agricultural landscapes, uses only those habitat remnants greater than 42 acres (17 hectares) and favors the largest patches greater than 158 acres (64 hectares).
Terrestrial, territorial, and resident unless forced to move by
clearance or logging. One observational study inferred that two females maintained non-overlapping home ranges vocally rather than by overt aggression. Each female formed a covey with between one and three males. In the breeding season each male of a covey became solitary and maintained a temporary, exclusive small territory around his nest within the larger territory of the female. The female appeared to rotate among the males, presenting each in turn with a clutch of eggs. In another study, this one of radio-tracked birds, the home range of a male overlapped that of three females, and those of the females overlapped each other to some extent. The birds occupied areas of 5.4–15.1 acres (2.2–6.1 hectares) at a density of 0.4–0.5 individuals per acre (1–1.3 birds per hectare). Roosting sites were between the buttress roots of rainforest trees and changed nightly. In another radio-tracking study, females occupied home ranges of 7.4–10.9 acres (3–4.4 hectares) before logging, and 12.8–44.2 acres (5.2–17.9 hectares) after logging. The home ranges of nonbreeding males averaged 15.3 acres (6.2 hectares), but that of a male tending chicks was 4.7 acres (1.9 hectares).
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Eats seeds and invertebrates obtained by gleaning and scratching in ground litter. Mostly insectivorous.
Lays from October to February or March in the wild. Females sequentially polyandrous. In captivity can lay in all months, though usually September to April if conditions are sufficiently warm. Beneath the rainforest canopy, the nest is often a simple scrape lined with leaves, grass, or moss, placed between buttress roots or under a fern amid a ferny or weedy understory. The clutch is usually three or four eggs, rarely five. The incubation period for captive birds is 15–16 days but has been reported for wild birds as 18–21 days, apparently from laying of the first egg to hatching of the clutch. Chicks start to feed themselves at eight days, although the male continues to feed them until they are two weeks old. The young acquire sexually diagnostic plumage at eight to twelve weeks and can breed at four to five months old.
Classified as Endangered by the IUCN and listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES). Rare, restricted in range and declining, owing to clearance and fragmentation of specialized habitat.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Well established in aviculture.
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