bustard quail

bustard quail or button quail, any of the small ground-running Old World birds of the family Turnicidae. Also called a hemipode, it resembles a true quail in appearance and way of life but is more closely related to sandgrouse and pigeons. Bustard quails have short tails and rounded wings and lack a hind toe. They are secretive birds, inhabiting grass and brush country and open woodlands, and are found throughout Australia, S Asia, and Africa, with one species extending into S Spain. They travel singly, in pairs, in small family groups, or, in some species, in covoys of 15 to 30 birds. Their diet consists of seeds, shoots, and small insects. The bustard quail female is larger and more colorful than the male, and takes the lead in courtship; she has a specialized vocal organ for giving the booming mating call. The nest is on the ground and is constructed by both sexes. After the female has laid her clutch, typically of four eggs, the male incubates the eggs and rears the young. There are 15 species of bustard quail, classified in two genera of the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Gruiformes, family Turnicidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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