Long time, no see

Almost a decade ago the local Connecting Country program identified a suite of woodland birds, known as the ‘feathered five’, as a focus for conservation actions across Mount Alexander Shire.

The five species selected were Jacky Winter, Hooded Robin, Brown Treecreeper, Diamond Firetail and Painted Button-quail. The ‘feathered five’ were chosen as they have all been declining in number and range in recent years, and are listed as threatened, along with a number of other bird species, in a group known as the Temperate Woodland Bird Community. Furthermore, each species is:

  • easily identified
  • reasonably wide spread across the Mount Alexander region
  • a ground foraging bird  and very susceptible to the pressures that are causing woodland birds to decline.

While four of the five species on this list can be readily found in various local spots, the Painted Button-quail has proven to be extremely elusive in recent years. In fact, I haven’t observed them around Newstead in the last four years – the period immediately following the breaking of the Millenium Drought in 2010-11 is the last time I can recall seeing them in reasonable numbers.

What a delight then to come across a single female in the Mia Mia earlier this week. After having almost stepped on the bird it scurried quickly away as I froze in surprise and then stood transfixed for ten minutes or so as it alternated between careful foraging and sitting to bathe in the late afternoon sunshine. The behaviour of this female suggests it may have a nest nearby, or at least be thinking about breeding.


Painted Button-quail, Mia Mia Track, 11th October 2021











Painted Button-quail are often detected by the presence of platelets, saucer-shaped depressions created by the birds turning in a circle as they forage in leaf litter. There were a number of platelets to be found in the vicinity of where I spotted the female button-quail.


Painted Button-quail platelet

10 responses to “Long time, no see

  1. Karem Manwaring

    fantastic sighting Geoff – what a beautiful bird it is
    Karen (Vaughan)

  2. Susan Bridekirk

    Hi Geoff,

    I flushed out a button quail in my paddock last week! Only one though. On Monday afternoon a sacred kingfisher was perched on the trunk, and watching the grass around our old trees near the house. I was enchanted by its glossy turquoise wings and head. I have never seen one here before. We used to have more button quail here around the time we bought the place a decade ago. Lots of peaceful doves calling this morning.

    All the best to you – Susan Baringhup.

  3. Total envy. I have seen 2 BQs in my whole life.

  4. Great photos Geoff!

  5. Felicity Johnson

    It was lovely seeing one and getting great photos at Rise and Shine a couple of weeks ago.

  6. What a thrill for us all! Lovely snaps of quail and platelets. Thanks…can’t wait to be free to search for more

  7. I can see why it’s called “painted” . The feathers look like little mosaic tiles!

  8. How exciting, Geoff! Transfixed even reading Carol

  9. What an amazing looking creature. Its feathers look like inspiration for an indigenous painting. Thank you.

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