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Sumba Buttonquail Turnix everetti
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This elusive grassland specialist qualifies as Vulnerable on the grounds that its small range (where it is known from few locations) and single small population are likely to be declining as a result of habitat degradation.

Taxonomic source(s)
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.

13-14 cm. Small, short-legged, buttonquail. Upperparts vermiculated black, tawny, grey and white. Wing-coverts more rufous. Rich rufous chest, black-and-white scaling on sides of neck. White throat and belly. Stout blue-grey bill and pinkish legs. Similar spp. Sympatric race of Red-backed Buttonquail T. maculosa sumbana has small yellow bill, yellow legs, more extensive rufous on underparts and black spots on chest sides. Voice Undocumented.

Distribution and population
Turnix everetti is endemic to the island of Sumba, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia (BirdLife International 2001), where it is apparently patchily distributed, but locally frequent, as at Yumbu where up to 17 have been recorded. Locals report it to be common during the maize harvest and unidentified buttonquails are encountered throughout the island. The species may therefore prove to be more widespread and abundant than currently suspected.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The species has not been recorded in anthropogenic habitats despite survey effort in human modified grasslands. Therefore, widespread grazing and burning, as well as hunting pressure, are suspected to be driving an on-going population decline.

It inhabits sparse, dry grassland and scrub, often in a mosaic, from sea-level to at least 220 m, and appears to be less common in cultivated areas. At Yumbu, it was found in sparse natural grassland with occasional bushes on a raised coral limestone plateau, with all definite and possible records coming from areas with a 0.5-0.7 m sward height, interspersed with patches of shorter grass. It associates (and may be in competition) with other Turnix and Coturnix species. It has been postulated that resource partitioning in these species is related to bill morphology, the heavier bill of T. everetti being an adaptation to its diet of larger seeds. Although probably sedentary, seasonal movements may occur in response to food availability.

Assessment of the threat posed by the burning and clearance of habitat is complicated by the fact that this activity may actually increase habitat availability for the species. Nevertheless, much survey time has been spent in human-made grasslands, and its apparent absence from these areas suggests that it is constrained by an unknown ecological factor. It is quite possible, therefore, that overgrazing and burning are deleterious, and that competition with other species is a problem. Recent evidence suggests that it is often trapped for food, at least seasonally, and this may constitute a major threat.

Conservation Actions Underway
Recent surveys have provided important new information and a conservation project on Sumba has been initiated. While this project has submitted a proposal to gazette a network of seven protected areas on the island, it is unclear to what extent this will benefit this species. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further fieldwork to net and identify buttonquails at a wide range of sites across a variety of grassland habitats, in order to estimate population size, distribution and key ecological parameters. Ensure the Sumba Forest Conservation Strategy incorporates measures tailored to the needs of this non-forest species. Conduct conservation awareness programmes to reduce hunting and trapping.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Taylor, J., Tobias, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Turnix everetti. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

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

ARKive species - Sumba buttonquail (Turnix everetti) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Turnicidae (Buttonquails)
Species name author Hartert, 1898
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,100 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species