Family Buttonquails (Turnicidae)

Near Threatened

Black-breasted Buttonquail (Turnix melanogaster)


French: Turnix à poitrine noire German: Schwarzbrust-Laufhühnchen Spanish: Torillo pechinegro

Hemipodius melanogaster


, 1837,

Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia


Variously considered to be similar to, and possibly related to, either T. nigricollis and T. ocellatus, or T. suscitator; but affinities more likely to be with T. varius group, and males of melanogaster and varius resemble each other. Proposed race goweri (Queensland) no longer recognized, as based on individual variation. Monotypic.


Coastal E Australia in SE Queensland and extreme NE New South Wales; offshore Fraser I.

Descriptive notes

17–19 cm; male 50–127 g, female 80–159 g; female larger. Fairly large, robust Turnix with relatively slender bill and pale eyes. Male has... read more


Advertising call by female, mainly given in response to heavy rainfall over course of a few days... read more


Principally found in areas experiencing annual rainfall of 770–1200 mm. Rainforest, other... read more

Food and feeding

Apparently feeds mainly on invertebrates, though seeds, including grain, also reported. In one study, commonest items were: beetles,... read more


In wild, recorded mainly in Aug–Feb occasionally to Apr, but varies locally, and seemingly linked in some (but not all) locations to... read more


Apparently mostly sedentary, with no evidence of seasonal or long-distance movements, though... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently listed as Near Threatened, having been steadily downgraded from Endangered status; despite that population is considered to be still... read more

Recommended citation

Debus, S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Black-breasted Buttonquail (Turnix melanogaster). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 29 January 2020).