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NSW SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE

Black-breasted Button-quail Turnix melanogaster Review of Current Information in NSW May 2008

Current status:

The Black-breasted Button-quail Turnix melanogaster is currently listed as Vulnerable in Queensland under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NC Act), and as Vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The NSW Scientific Committee recently determined that the Black-breasted Button- quail meets criteria for listing as Critically Endangered in NSW under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC Act), based on information contained in this report and other information available for the species.

Species description:

The Black-breasted Button-quail is a small (19 cm in length) quail-like bird, though among the largest of the Australian quail and button-quail. It is dumpy, almost tail-less, mottled and streaked in black, brown, grey and white, with short wings, short yellow legs, and distinctive white eyes. The female is black on the head and spangled black and white on the foreparts, but the male is mottled grey on these parts. The similar Painted Button-quail Turnix varia has red eyes and is more reddish brown dorsally, particularly on the neck, which is rusty. Other button-quail in NSW are much smaller and redder. True quail are more streaked, and are either richer brown with red eyes (e.g. Brown Quail Coturnix ypsilophora), or have a rusty throat above the black-streaked breast, and red eyes (e.g. male Stubble Quail Coturnix pectoralis). True quail have a small hind-toe, lacking in button-quail which have only three, forward-pointing toes.

Taxonomy:

Turnix melanogaster (Gould 1837) (Turnicidae) is a monotypic (i.e. no subspecies), endemic Australian species.

Distribution and number of populations:

The Black-breasted Button-quail is restricted to coastal south-east Queensland (north to Fraser Island), and the Border Ranges and Big Scrub areas of extreme north-east NSW. Recent claims of records farther south (Smyth & Young 1996), near Dorrigo and in the Macleay River catchment are unconfirmed. There are believed to be 25 subpopulations of the

Button-quail in Australia These are found in the Warning/Nightcap Range

(Garnett & Crowley 2000), of which only two occur in NSW.

western Border

area.

There

have

Ranges area and in been only 10 records

the of

Tweed Range/Mt the Black-breasted

ESTABLISHED UNDER THE THREATENED SPECIES CONSERVATION ACT 1995

Contact Address: C/o PO Box 1967 Hurstville BC NSW 1481

Telephone: (02) 9585 6940 Facsimile: (02) 9585 6989

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