Perdix varia Latham, 1801, Sydney, New South Wales. Closely related to chestnut-backed and buff-breasted buttonquails (T. castanota and T. olivii, respectively). Three subspecies recognized; that on New Caledonia very distinct and may be full species.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Varied buttonquail; French: Turnix bariolй; German: Buntlaufhьhnchen; Spanish: Torillo Pintojo.
6.7–9.1 in (17–23 cm); male 1.9–3.3 oz (53–94 g), female 2.5–4.7 oz (72–134 g). Large buttonquail, reddish with mottled gray breast, slender bill, and red eyes. Female larger and redder. Juvenile smaller, grayer, and more mottled, without red, and with pale eyes.
T. v. varia: eastern, southeastern, and southwestern Australia, including Tasmania; T. v. scintillans: islands off southwestern Australia; T. v. novaecaledoniae: New Caledonia.
Scrub, grassy woodland, open forest, grassy clearings in dense forest, and heath.
Terrestrial, diurnal, and partly nocturnal. Migrates at night. Strongly territorial.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Eats seeds, green shoots, and invertebrates obtained by gleaning and scratching on the ground.
Lays from late winter to autumn in south and east of range, all months of the year in the tropics. Females are sequentially polyandrous but may form short-term monogamous bonds. Clutch is usually three or four eggs, though up to five. Incubation 13–14 days. Chicks are fed by the male for 7–10 days, can fly at 10 days, are fully feathered at 16 days, and reach adult size at 23 days. Breeding success in one sample was 3.7 chicks per successful nest, and 2.6 chicks per clutch started. Broods averaged 3.5 young in the first week, down to 2.3 in the second.
Not threatened. Widespread and uncommon to locally common; declining in south Australian urbanized and agricultural regions. Subspecies on New Caledonia, possibly a full species, rare or extinct. Very similar species T. castanota and T. olivii of N. Australia classified as Vulnerable and Endangered, respectively.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Established in aviculture.
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