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Charadriiformes > Turnicidae

Hottentot Buttonquail

Turnix hottentottus

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Identification

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This tiny bird, the only buttonquail in its range, is barely bulkier than a sparrow. Quail-like, it is secretive and terrestrial, scuttling between shrubs; most frequently seen when flushed suddenly at close proximity, flying away on whirring wings. The female has an orange-rufous wash to the breast and face and bright yellow legs, while the male is duller. It inhabits tussock-like restio-dominated fynbos around 50 cm tall, preferring coastal plains but occurring up to 1500 m in altitude. It’s likely nomadic, shifting between patches of suitable post-burn habitat 3–5 years after fire. Its call, given mostly at night, is a low, deep, repeated “oooooooppp”, slower and longer than that of Black-rumped Buttonquail.

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