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Buttonquail
Black-breasted Button-quail male inskip.JPG
Black-breasted buttonquail (Turnix melanogaster)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Turnicidae
GR Gray, 1840
Genera

 Turnix
 Ortyxelos

Turnicidae rangmap.PNG
Distribution of the buttonquails

Buttonquail or hemipodes are members of a small family of birds, Turnicidae, which resemble, but are unrelated to, the quails of Phasianidae. They inhabit warm grasslands in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia. There are 16 species in two genera, with most species being found in the genus Turnix and only one being found in the genus Ortyxelos.

Buttonquails are small, drab, running birds, which avoid flying. The female is the more richly colored of the sexes. While the quail-plover is thought to be monogamous, Turnix buttonquails are sequentially polyandrous; both sexes cooperate in building a nest in the earth, but normally only the male incubates the eggs and tends the young, while the female may go on to mate with other males. The eggs hatch after an incubation period of 12 or 13 days, and the young are able to fly within two weeks of hatching.

Taxonomy

Buttonquail were traditionally placed in Gruiformes or Galliformes (the crane and pheasant orders). The Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy elevated them to ordinal status as the Turniciformes and basal to other Neoaves either because their accelerated rate of molecular evolution exceeded the limits of sensitivity of DNA-DNA hybridization or because the authors did not perform the appropriate pairwise comparisons or both. Morphological, DNA-DNA hybridization and sequence data indicate that turnicids correctly belong to the shorebirds (Charadriiformes). They seem to be an ancient group among these, as indicated by the buttonquail-like Early Oligocene fossil Turnipax and the collected molecular data.

Description

The buttonquails are a group of small terrestrial birds. The smallest species is the quail-plover, the only species in the genus Ortyxelos, which is 10 cm (3.9 in) in length and weighs only 20 g (0.71 oz). The buttonquails in the genus Turnix range from 12 to 23 cm (4.7–9.1 in) in length and weigh between 30 to 130 g (1.1–4.6 oz). They superficially resemble the true quails of the genus Coturnix, but differ from them in lacking a hind toe and a crop. The females of this family also possess a unique vocal organ created by an enlarged trachea and inflatable bulb in the oesophagus, which they use to produce a booming call.

Species

Family: Turnicidae

  • Genus: Ortyxelos
    • Quail-plover, Ortyxelos meiffrenii
  • Genus: Turnix
    • Small buttonquail, Turnix sylvaticus
      • Tawitawi small buttonquail, Turnix sylvaticus suluensis (extinct: mid-20th century)
      • Andalusian hemipode, Turnix sylvaticus sylvaticus (possibly extinct: late 20th century?)
    • Red-backed buttonquail, Turnix maculosus
    • Fynbos buttonquail, Turnix hottentottus
    • Black-rumped buttonquail, Turnix nanus
    • Yellow-legged buttonquail, Turnix tanki
    • Spotted buttonquail, Turnix ocellatus
    • Barred buttonquail, Turnix suscitator
    • Madagascan buttonquail, Turnix nigricollis
    • Black-breasted buttonquail, Turnix melanogaster
    • Chestnut-backed buttonquail, Turnix castanotus
    • Buff-breasted buttonquail, Turnix olivii
    • Painted buttonquail, Turnix varius
    • New Caledonian buttonquail, Turnix novaecaledoniae (possibly extinct: early 20th century)
    • Worcester's buttonquail, Turnix worcesteri
    • Sumba buttonquail, Turnix everetti
    • Red-chested buttonquail, Turnix pyrrhothorax
    • Little buttonquail, Turnix velox
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