To my utter surprise, it turned out to be a male Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator—a bird species not only new to my garden, but also new to my local area! Here’s the victim.
Buttonquails are peculiar birds in that their sex roles are reversed. The girls are generally larger and strikingly coloured; therefore, are better looking compared to the boys. They are also vociferous in their courtship rituals, and take the lead in initiating love. There is stiff intrasexual competition in the girls to win over the boys. It is the boys who are burdened with brooding and caring of the babies. The girls take female emancipation to its shocking extremes, and walk away from all parental duties after sex. And go looking for more subservient males to burden with her babies. Yes, Buttonquail females are polyandrous.
Is it all bad news for boys? Luckily no. The chicks in buttonquails are precocial meaning they can walk and run soon after birth to follow the farther to find food. So, the boys are not too stressed.
Buttonquails are secretive terrestrial birds occurring in dry grasslands and scrub jungles. They prefer to escape by walking and scurry through the low vegetation rather than flying which they do reluctantly. When they take to the air, the flight is never persisted for too long, and they quickly drop to cover almost as if been shot in the air. After that you can almost never find them again and they simply melt away!
Barred Buttonquail is widespread in the Oriental region where 18 sub-species of it are recognised. In Sri Lanka, it is represented by an endemic sub-species, leggei.
This was my first record of this species in the ‘wet zone’. I remember reading a report in Ceylon Bird Club Notes sometime ago of a sight record of this bird from Pittugala close to Malabe. This area is just about 5 km as a
The dry zone has reached its driest phase now, which usually lasts until the onset of the North East Monsoon(which starts in October). Could there be inter-migration of Barred Buttonquails between dry and wet zone during the direst months?
Buttonquails (aka. Bustard-quails) despite their superficial resemblance to Quails are not closely related to them. They are categorised in two entirely different bird families: quails in Phasianidae together with partridges, and pheasants; and buttonquails in family of their own named, Turnicidae. Furthermore, buttonquails were traditionally included in the orders Gruiformes or Galliformes, but DNA studies have shown enough evidence that they in fact should be included in the order Charadriiformes to which shorebirds belong.
Here’s the Buttonquail slayer.
Her past avian catches include an Indian Pitta, which survived thanks to my mother's intervention.
Here's another brat.
Absence of hind toe in Buttonquails is another diagnostic that seperate them from Quails, which show this feature.
This is my contribution to My World.
In Sri Lanka, cats are not normally kept indoors like in developed countries; instead they have a care-free semi-wild existence. I live with my parents, and the cats belong to my mother, so I have very little say on this matter. The mother-cat featured above, now, is no more. Still, we are left with two—both females. I have begun negotiations to phase 'em out ...