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NSW SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE

Button-quail, from six localities, in NSW in the two decades leading up to 2000 (Garnett & Crowley 2000). There were no records of the species in the first national bird atlas (Blakers et al. 1984), and only one incidental record in the second national bird atlas (Barrett et al. 2003). Records since 1990 have been reported in the NSW Field Ornithologists Club annual bird reports and rare bird reports published in Australian Birds (tabulated below), and all concern only one of the two subpopulations. Expert ornithological surveys in the Richmond Valley (Gosper 1986; 1992; Gosper & Holmes 2002) obtained no recent records of the species, and there have been no published sightings in NSW since 2000.

Location

Date

Mebbin SF

July 1995

Mt Nardi (Nightcap Ra)

June 1999

Big Scrub FR

June 1999

Minyon Falls, Whian Whian SF

Sept 2000

Number of birds

1

group

1+

2

Ecology:

The ecology of the Black-breasted Button-quail is generally well understood following recent studies (McConnell & Hobson 1995; Hamley et al. 1997; Smith et al. 1998; Lees & Smith 1999; Smyth & Pavey 2001; Smyth et al. 2001).

Key habitat requirements

The species is ground-dwelling, inhabiting subtropical rainforest, other moist forest, dry rainforest (vine thicket) and grassy edges, with a closed canopy and deep litter layer. Such forests have been extensively cleared, logged and fragmented in NSW. The Black-breasted Button-quail uses mature (though not young) Araucaria cunninghamii (Hoop Pine) plantations with a Lantana camara (Lantana) understorey as a supplementary habitat, but is adversely affected when pines are harvested.

Breeding biology

The Black-breasted Button-quail’s nest is a scrape in the ground, under a low bush or coarse tussock or between buttress roots in rainforest, lined and sometimes hooded or domed with grass and leaves. Clutches of three or four eggs are laid from spring to autumn. The incubation period is 16 days. Downy chicks are precocial, can run soon after hatching, and feed themselves by two weeks. Chicks of the similar Painted Button-quail can flutter at 10 days, are fully feathered at 16 days, and are adult-sized at three weeks (Marchant & Higgins 1993). The Black-breasted Button-quail occurs solitarily, in pairs, or in family groups of a male (or sometimes both parents) and chicks. The female mates sequentially with several

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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