Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Buttonquail Series

July had been a Buttonquail month. I visited Mae Hia Agricultural College quite often, at least once a week through out the month. In the middle of the college lies a large patch of experimental farm plots. During rainy season like this, the plots are mostly covered with tall green grass scattered by recently ploughed plots, best habitat for many grassland birds including the secretive Barred Buttonquails (Turnix suscitator thai). I found that there was actually a pretty good number of these little quails in a particular area of grassy patches near the gourd plantation.

Stunning female Barred Buttonquail

With a male in the background

The duller male bird

As I mentioned in the earlier post about the buttonquails, a particular newly ploughed plot was favoured by a small group of buttonquails. Last time I didn't get quite many photos of the beautiful females, so this time I focused mainly on the them. However, they proved to be much trickier to photograph than their much duller mates.

Making its soft continuous coos

Pumping air into the lungs

Male bird while crossing the track

This individual has some sort of a fish-like right eye

Since it was still the beginning of breeding season. Most of the birds were in pairs and were rather territorial. As the female bird began making its soft continuous coo to announce its territory and calling its mate, other single male birds that were feeding nearby would be instantly attracted and showed up briefly by the stage. This often led to an unwanted fight between the males.

In the midst of the fight, the female just kept cheering.

Beak-lock, then kick!

It was funny and interesting how after the fight went on for almost a minute,
the surrounding White-vented Mynas began to flock up in circle!

Some more shots of the female

Buttonquail wannabe? Pretty close but not good enough.
(A pair of Zebra Doves)

The fight of the buttonquails is actually quite terrifyingly serious. They would engage in a beak-locked position and constantly kick each other until one of them falls apart. I've never imagined a peaceful-looking tiny bird like buttonquail to be able to get up and put on such serious fight. I've witnessed the male buttonquail fight twice. The first time, the late comer won over the already paired up male. It then quickly ran and walked beside the female. Unfortunately, the female didn't seem to be happy about the new guy. She kept making her soft coos calling for her wounded husband. Later her mate showed up scarily on the opposite side of the road. She then fled the new guy whose victory only lasted for no more than half an hour.


  1. Great post and outstanding images. Well done, Ayuwat.

  2. Just brilliant images. I reckon you spent some time lying on your belly to get some of those ground-level shots.

  3. Great fighting scenes! Actually I once accidentally witnessed a cockfight in Thailand.............not as cute as these Buttonquails.

  4. Brilliant buttonquails, Ayuwat ! - and I hadn't given much thought to their breeding behavior..very interesting !

  5. Wonderful series. Never been able to get shots of quail like these.