Barred Buttonquail: The Tiny Denizen of Asian Scrublands

The world of birdlife is intriguing, presenting to us creatures of varied sizes, colors, habits, and habitats. Among them, there’s one small but fascinating bird that has caught the attention of numerous bird lovers around the globe – the Barred Buttonquail, or as scientifically known, Turnix suscitator.

This intriguing bird, resembling the true quails, is part of a family of birds known as buttonquails. A typical sight in the Asian landscape, the Barred Buttonquail is a resident of a broad region spanning from India to the Philippines, encompassing tropical Asia and South China. Despite its small stature, this bird leaves a lasting impression with its unique characteristics and behavior.

It’s not an easy task to capture the bird image of a Barred Buttonquail, as they are adept at remaining hidden. However, those lucky enough to spot this elusive creature, or perhaps find a bird png or bird picture, will be rewarded with the sight of a charming, tiny bird, bearing a rich rufous-brown above and a mix of rusty and buff below.

Barred Buttonquail: A Quick Overview

Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common nameBarred Buttonquail
2Scientific nameTurnix suscitator
3ColourRufous-brown above, rusty and buff below with black bars on chin, throat, and breast
4Average length32-35 cm
5Average height14-18 cm
6Type of birdGround-dwelling bird
7Found in India in statesThroughout India up to 2500m in the Himalayas
8HabitatScrub and grasslands
9IUCN StatusLeast Concern

Features of the Barred Buttonquail


With an average length ranging between 32-35 cm, the Barred Buttonquail isn’t a large bird. But don’t let the size fool you; this petite bird is full of energy and vitality. Unlike the soaring raptors or the nimble hummingbirds, buttonquails are largely ground-dwelling creatures. They navigate the complex undergrowth of their preferred habitats with ease, their bodies perfectly adapted to a life spent running through grass and scrub. However, when they do take flight, the sight of their small, swiftly beating wings and agile maneuvers are a delight for any bird lover.


The average height of a Barred Buttonquail, measuring from the base to the top of the head when standing, is between 14 to 18 cm. This small stature allows these birds to navigate through grassy terrains and underbrush effortlessly, often disappearing from sight, only to reappear a short distance away. However, despite their small size, these birds are known for their distinctive and loud calls that can be heard at a considerable distance.

Running Speed

As ground-dwelling birds, Barred Buttonquails rely on their legs for mobility more than their wings. While the exact running speed isn’t documented, it’s observable that they are swift runners. Their strong, short legs enable them to dash through the undergrowth quickly, evading predators or chasing after potential meals. The lack of a hind toe in these birds, a distinct characteristic separating them from the true quails, doesn’t hamper their terrestrial mobility at all.


The color of the Barred Buttonquail is a mix of rufous-brown above and rusty and buff below. Their throat and breast are closely barred with black, adding a striking contrast to their overall appearance. This unique coloring provides an excellent camouflage, helping them blend into their environment seamlessly, whether it’s a grassy plain, scrubland, or open jungle.

Habitat and Food of the Barred Buttonquail

  1. Habitat: The Barred Buttonquail has a widespread distribution, found throughout India, South-East Asia, including the Philippines, and as far as Indonesia. They favor a range of habitats, from light deciduous forests, scrub jungles to farmlands, and are particularly comfortable in warm grasslands. They can adapt to live at various altitudes and are found up to elevations of 2500m in the Himalayas.
  1. Diet: Like most quails, the Barred Buttonquail is omnivorous. Their diet is varied and includes a mix of seeds and insects. These creatures have a diverse diet, consisting of grass seeds, grains, and invertebrates. This makes them an important part of the ecosystem, as they help spread seeds and regulate the population of insects.
  1. Feeding habits: Being primarily terrestrial, these birds often forage on the ground, scurrying through the undergrowth in search of food. A common behavior observed is dust bathing, which is believed to help them maintain their plumage.

Nesting and Nurturing of the Barred Buttonquail

Like many other aspects of their lives, the breeding habits of the Barred Buttonquail are also intriguing. These birds don’t build nests in trees; instead, they prefer to nest on the ground. The male plays a significant role in incubating the eggs and caring for the young ones once they hatch. As soon as they’re born, the tiny buttonquails are capable of running, a characteristic they share with other ground-dwelling birds.

The breeding season varies across their range, but generally falls between the monsoon and post-monsoon months in many regions. During this time, the bird nest is a common sight, especially if you are lucky enough to spot it amidst the dense undergrowth.

Threats to the Barred Buttonquail

Although the IUCN has classified the Barred Buttonquail as “Least Concern,” it still faces several threats, such as loss of habitat due to activities like agriculture, urbanization, and deforestation. They are also hunted for meat and eggs in some regions. The spread of invasive plant species is another threat, as it alters the habitats these birds rely on.

IUCN Status and Conservation

The Barred Buttonquail has been classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a species of “Least Concern”. This implies that, currently, they are not under a significant threat of extinction. Even though this species has a certain status, it’s important to not ignore the fact that they are facing habitat loss and other human-induced changes. To ensure their survival, it’s crucial to continue conservation efforts.


To spot a Barred Buttonquail, you might need a dash of luck and a lot of patience. But once you get the chance to observe this beautiful bird, it becomes a memorable experience. Whether you are a bird lover looking for the next addition to your bird photos collection, a researcher documenting bird species, or someone trying to find the nearest bird shop to start your journey into birdwatching, the Barred Buttonquail is a bird worth knowing.

From its habitat preferences to its nurturing habits, this tiny bird offers a glimpse into a life that’s as fascinating as it is elusive. And while they might not be the ones flying high or displaying flashy colors, the Barred Buttonquail, in its understated elegance, encapsulates the mesmerizing beauty and diversity of birdlife.

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