Saturday, 14 May 2016

Barred Buttonquail: The ghostly birds...

Here goes my mandatory warning: the Barred Buttonquails are not the true quails, they are more of rails - so I am told. They are almost omnipresent in most of the Indian Subcontinent across tropical Asia to South China and Indonesia and Philippines. The problem is that they have and ability - like so many birds and animals - to hide in plain sight. And that they are small, mud brown with an effective camouflage pattern does not help in sightings...

...The poor male - smaller, duller and the home maker

I got alerted to their presence by a fellow birder - Mrs Alpana in Chandigarh and I was holding my horses to return to Chandigarh and see them properly and photograph them. Promptly after Stepping in Chandigarh I rang her up and requested her to come along for these birds. Very next day we were at the spot at sunrise and waiting. Half hour of sitting quietly - and there they were - the tiny bundles moving from one bush to another with extreme caution. I fired of - perhaps 300 shots - but the birds were just non obliging - The focus was hard even when they came a few feet from us - because they were just not ready to leave cover. Unfortunately one time when they were out of cover the one time and crossing the track I was just not ready.

The female Barred Buttonquail, beautiful, bigger, brighter, stronger and a flirt...

Same female as pictured above

Okay for information these four acceptable pictures are a result of five visits to the spot...


Okay - here is the fun fact of this bird: The female is larger and more richly coloured. We birders are usually not used to seeing more ‘beautiful females’ in the bird world - infact I may be able to recall only a few handful in my experience and thinking about it I can recall only one at the moment - Greater Painted Snipe. The female is also polyandrous - she fights for possession of a cock, announces herself to cock and goes off to acquire a new husband as soon as the eggs are laid as it is the cock that incubates the eggs - a husband who genuinely deserves sympathies - unlike most of us…


I have decided to include the bird songs if possible from this post onwards - mainly so that the option to hear them is also available - and the songs are quite a surprise I can assure you.

Ah - yes that sound that sounds like a scooter is a female call...

4 comments:

Sumeet Mukherjee said...

My goodness, how come you are always so lucky. You really have that thing to spot them from nowhere. Awesome clicks.

S S Cheema said...

Thanks Sumeet.

Bob Carper said...

You are correct about so few richly colored females. Only the Phalaropes come to mind here in North America. So it must be consistent around the globe.

S S Cheema said...

@Bob - true and thanks for visiting the Blog.