Family Pheasants, Partridges, Turkeys, Grouse (Phasianidae)

Least Concern

Brown Quail (Synoicus ypsilophorus)


French: Caille tasmane German: Tasmanienwachtel Spanish: Codorniz de Tasmania
Other common names: Swamp Quail, Tasmanian Quail (ypsilophorus)

Coturnix ypsilophorus


, 1792,

no locality = Tasmania


Previously placed in genus Coturnix. All races except nominate ypsilophorus have been considered together to form a separate species, S. australis, but morphological differences between some of these greater than those between australis and ypsilophorus; they differ in size, overall colour saturation, strength of barring and shaft streaking, and eye colour (differences most marked in males). Geographical variation complex and requires detailed review; if nominate form is considered a separate species from all other races, a reappraisal is required of the forms in New Guinea, where the almost black dogwa is particularly distinctive#R, and the possibility that lowland forms represent a different species from alpine and montane forms needs investigation. Race lamonti sometimes included in mafulu. Otherwise, populations of N Queensland, NW Australia and SW Australia have been separated as races queenslandicus, cervinus and sordidus, respectively, but differences slight, while no clear correlation exists between geographical distribution in Australia and plumage colour or pattern of plumage, but relationship between some of these names, especially cervinus, and the two accepted subspecies in the Lesser Sundas, pallidior and raaltenii, also requires renewed investigation#R. Proposed race castaneus (Timor) considered inseparable from raaltenii#R. A recently discovered population on Yamdena (in Tanimbar Is) may represent an undescribed form. Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. y. pallidior E. J. O. Hartert, 1897 – W Lesser Sundas (Sumba and Sawu).
  • S. y. raaltenii (S. Müller, 1842) – Lesser Sundas from Flores E to Tanimbar Is.
  • S. y. saturatior E. J. O. Hartert, 1930 – lowlands of N New Guinea.
  • S. y. lamonti Mayr & Gilliard, 1954 – moderate heights in mountains of C New Guinea.
  • S. y. dogwa Mayr & Rand, 1935 – lowlands of S New Guinea.
  • S. y. plumbeus Salvadori, 1894 – lowlands of E New Guinea.
  • S. y. monticola Mayr & Rand, 1935 – alpine areas of SE New Guinea.
  • S. y. mafulu Mayr & Rand, 1935 – S slopes of mountains in E & SE New Guinea.
  • S. y. australis (Latham, 1801) – Australia.
  • S. y. ypsilophorus (Bosc, 1792) – Tasmania.
  • Introduced to New Zealand (australis and ypsilophorus) and Fiji.

    Descriptive notes

    17–22 cm; male 75–140 g, female 85–140 g; wingspan 26–36 cm. Differs from Coturnix pectoralis in barred, not streaked, underparts; larger... read more


    Advertising call mostly given at dawn and dusk, a loud, rising, double-note whistle, rendered... read more


    Wet grassland and shrubland, especially in rank grass and moist meadows; also in Spinifex... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly seeds of grasses and herbs (Dactylocenium, Triticum, Digitaria, Oryza, Panicum, ... read more


    Season Aug–Jan in S Australia; 2–4 months later in N Australia, where breeding may continue until May or even year-round (in S... read more


    Believed to be fairly restricted to wet areas, although may move to high ground during flooding. In... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Mace Lande: safe. Few detailed data available. Believed to have suffered with wetland drainage, intensive cultivation, burning of... read more

    Recommended citation

    McGowan, P.J.K. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Brown Quail (Synoicus ypsilophorus). 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 9 April 2020).