Family Buttonquails (Turnicidae)

Least Concern

Black-rumped Buttonquail (Turnix nanus)


French: Turnix nain German: Kaplaufhühnchen Spanish: Torillo enano

Hemipodius nanus


, 1850,

Durban, South Africa


Often considered conspecific with T. hottentottus, but treated as separate species in a recent systematic list#R and differs on account of female underparts unspotted vs black-spotted and/or black-barred on tan breast and white flanks (3); male underparts pure white below tan breast vs broadly barred from breast to mid-belly and thence onto flanks (3); rump and uppertail (both sexes) blackish vs as rest of upperparts or slightly darker (2); irides bluish-white vs pale yellow (ns[2]); legs whitish-flesh vs yellow (ns[2]); clear supercilium vs white-flecked (ns[1]); slightly smaller size#R (assume 1); grassland vs “restionaceous fynbos#R (1); and apparent differences in migratory behaviour, but these not clearly understood (ns). Possible N races lucianus and insolatus now considered inseparable from nanus. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

Irregular and local in sub-Saharan Africa, mainly from Nigeria E to Uganda and Kenya, S to Angola and E South Africa; status and limits of range particularly uncertain in W Africa (reported W as far as Sierra Leone and as a breeder to Ivory Coast)#R.

Descriptive notes

14–16 cm; male 40–46 g, female 57·5–62·4 g; female larger. Small, rather dark Turnix with slender bill and orange-rufous face and breast; prominent barring on sides... read more


Vocalizations offer best means of detection and provide extremely strong evidence of breeding, but... read more


Short (characteristically 25–50 cm tall) and fairly open grassland and savanna including dry... read more

Food and feeding

Few specific data available. Seeds of grasses and weeds; invertebrates including insects and their larvae. Food taken on ground. Usually... read more


Laying occurs in most months, but locally during or at end of rainy seasons (e.g. Sept–Feb, mainly Dec–Jan, in Zimbabwe); elsewhere, in Jul... read more


Poorly understood. Resident and local intra-African migrant; apparently itinerant over most of... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Uncommon or locally common, but cryptic in plumage and behaviour and easily overlooked or misidentified; less numerous than partially... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Black-rumped Buttonquail (Turnix nanus). 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 27 January 2020).