The True Button Quail
I still have this species in my collection!
The genus Turnix, contains a group of strange small quail like birds called Hemipodes. These are the true "Button" Quail to ornithological world. Oddly, they are not true quails at all, but distant relatives of rails and cranes. They resemble true quail in many ways. They genearlly occupy the same habitats as quail, and even behave much like true quails, but upon close examination, these birds called Hemipodes are different in many ways.
- The females are larger and more colorful than males,
- The females assume the aggressive role of courtship,
- The males incubate the eggs, females do not incubate,
- The males do all or most of the parental care of the young.
- They only have 3 toes and are lacking a hind toe (hence the name hemipode which means "half a foot."
I have had the fortune to keep two species of true Button Quails. Both of these species are pictured here, The Barred Button Quail and the Black Breasted Button Quail. Even today I still have several adult Barred Button Quail which I imported from England about 10 years ago. I was able to breed both species but the young are extremely difficult to raise artficially. If the parents are willing to incubate they often raise the young quite well and in general my birds did incubate their eggs and were successful many times in raising small clutches of 1-2 and 3 young. Hemipodes lay lots of eggs like true quail and the eggs hatch in a remarkably short time 11-12 days, one of the shortest incubation periods for birds. The young however refuse to pick up food from the ground and with parental care are fed morsels of food from their fathers beak. I hatched a number of them and even tried hand feeding but most young birds hatched in incubators died after a few days, never trying to eat to swallow any food they were given. Those that were hatched by their parents did well and the adults raised several clutches per year when I first had them. Unfortunately, the females are very aggressive and young must be separated in to individual cages as they mature. Paring up a male and a female was a real challenge. I'm sorry to say I always lost several males eventually due to overly aggressive females.
I do have some pictures that I will eventually posts of the birds that I have remaining and of them with young that they raised. These birds are quite rare in the US and a few are held by zoos across the country, however I do not know of any in private collections and would like to hear from others who might have them.
Garrie P. Landry
Actual Photos of Hemipodes All photos by Josie Pyle, South Australia Red Breasted Hemipode native to Australia Not to be confused with the Red Breasted Button Quail (Chinese Painted Quail) that we have in the US. Red Breasted Hemipode Quail Chicks Photo #1 Photo #2
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