Out from the shadows

It’s been a good week for Painted Button-quail.

A cryptic species, at home in the box-ironbark, populations fluctuate along with the seasons. This year I suspect we’ll see an ‘uptick’ in numbers as conditions are ideal for a successful and extended breeding effort.

This week I’ve located birds in different parts of the Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve. On both occasions they emerged from the undergrowth as a tightly knit pair, a sign they are on their breeding ground. Earlier during winter, I flushed individual Painted Button-quail in the Mia Mia, and once a covey of three that rocketed off in typical style from beneath my feet. Tell-tale ‘platelets’, saucer-shaped depressions created by their foraging activities, have been found more regularly than usual.

When breeding the species is easiest to locate from its distinctive and far-carrying ‘oom’ calls, uttered slowly at first and then gradually quickening. Sexually dimorphic, the female is significantly larger and more richly coloured than the male – a large rufous shoulder patch the most immediately noticeable difference.

Painted Button-quail are a declining woodland bird. Over the past couple of decades there have been years when I didn’t record a single observation. Hopefully that might be about to change.


Painted Button-quail (female), Rise & Shine Bushland Reserve, 9th November 2022




Male Painted Button-quail


Painted Button-quail pair (male at front)




Female Painted Button-quail





2 responses to “Out from the shadows

  1. Hi Geoff, Every now and then I get the urge to thank you for Natural Newstead. This is such a time. Your posts are at once aesthetic and thought provoking.

    Regards, Simon Ellis

  2. Thanks Geoff for this and all the other Natural Newstead emails and pages!

    I live in Daylesford and had not heard of the Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve. The only information Parks Victoria has on this reserve is a green overlay of a satellite photo: https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/places-to-see/parks/rise-and-shine-bushland-reserve . The same overlay, in greater detail, can be found at https://mapshare.vic.gov.au/Vicplan/ by clicking the “Colour” item at the lower left and selecting ‘Hybrid”.

    Google Maps refers to it as the “Rise and Shine Conservation Reserve”. It is possible to alternate between map and satellite views to see the boundaries with respect to the detailed geographic features.

    Jase (Mal) Haysom has a detailed map of the reserve and the adjacent Pickpocket Diggings Historic and Cultural Features Reserve, with contours, tracks, gates and access roads: https://cartography.id.au/rise_and_shine/rise_and_shine.htm

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