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This poorly known species may have a very small range and population. It is restricted to a small number of locations and numbers are declining owing to the continuing destruction and degradation of its habitat. The species is therefore classified as Endangered.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
Turnix olivei Collar and Andrew (1988)
18-22 cm. Large buttonquail with heavy bill and yellow eyes. Adult male predominantly sandy-brown. Grey crown, nape and hindneck with prominent black stripes along each side. Black-and-rufous barring on back and outer scapulars. Rufous upperwing-coverts with white spots. Adult female similar to male but brighter, larger and darker on face. Juvenile plumage unknown. Similar spp. Plainer and paler than other buttonquails. Distinguished from Painted Buttonquail T. varia by heavier bill, plainer breast and lack of rufous shoulder patch. Voice Female, deep booming. Male, whistles, chirrups and deep humming.
Distribution and population
Turnix olivii is endemic to north-eastern Queensland, Australia, and is one of the country's least-known birds. Historically, the species has been recorded near Cooktown, Coen, Musgrave, Mareeba and Mt Molloy. There are no recent records from sites of early collection at Coen and near Cooktown and, in the last decade, it has only been found sporadically at a few sites. Its range probably fluctuates greatly depending on annual variations in the pattern of burning (Garnett et al. 2011). Through the 1990s, birds were found progressively less frequently near Mt Molloy, despite intensive searching. The total population is best-guessed at 500 mature individuals, and may be restricted to an area of occupancy of 50 km2 (Garnett and Crowley 2000).
Within the species's known range there are perhaps c.500 mature individuals, equivalent to c.750 individuals in total.
There is some evidence of declines in the area of occupancy, quality of known habitat, number of locations and possibly the number of mature individuals (Garnett and Crowley 2000). Overall, the population is estimated to be declining, although the likely rate of decline has not been estimated.
Most of the few observations of this species are from within grassland, on ridge-tops or stony rises within areas that are otherwise dominated by eucalypt woodland or rainforest. Fires after the first rains of the wet season are thought to be important in maintaining the open structure of their favoured grassland habitat (Garnett et al. 2011). Its only feeding records are of seeds and insects. They build dome nests on the ground and lay 4 eggs that are tended by the male.
Some sites are in danger of being destroyed by clearing. Many sites may have been invaded by woody weeds and rendered unsuitable by inappropriate burning and grazing regimes that encourage extensive fires, but promote occlusion of grasslands and grassy woodland by woody weeds. As a result there may be few places that retain the open structure that the species appears to prefer for breeding (Garnett et al. 2011). Predation by feral cat Felis catus or feral pig Sus scrofa may also affect abundance (Garnett et al. 2011).
Conservation Actions Underway
A recovery plan has been prepared (Mathieson and Smith 2009). Searches for the species are underway, as is habitat analysis in the Mt Molloy area. Conservation Actions Proposed
Develop a reliable technique for finding birds. Search for populations in the northern Atherton Tablelands. Record calls and use to locate other populations. Determine habitat requirements. Determine habitat use and movements in wild populations using radio-telemetry. Determine an effective conservation management strategy for known populations. Capture at least 10 birds to establish a captive population. Determine the optimum habitat structure using a captive population. Undertake fire management at known locations, including storm burning (Garnett et al. 2011).
Garnett, S. T.; Crowley, G. M. 2000. The action plan for Australian birds 2000. Environment Australia, Canberra.
Garnett, S.T., Szabo, J.K. and Dutson, G. 2011. The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.
Mathieson, M. T. and Smith, G. C. 2009. National recovery plan for the buff-breasted button-quail Turnix olivii. Report to Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra. Department of Environment and Resource Management, Brisbane.
Further web sources of information
Australian Govt - Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 - Recovery Outline
Text account compilers
Garnett, S., McClellan, R., Pilgrim, J., Taylor, J., Allinson, T, Symes, A.
Garnett, S., Mathieson, M.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Turnix olivii. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/08/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/08/2014.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife
To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.
Additional resources for this species
|Current IUCN Red List category||Endangered|
|Species name author||Robinson, 1900|
|Population size||500 mature individuals|
|Distribution size (breeding/resident)||2,100 km2|
|Links to further information|
|- Additional Information on this species|