Buttonquails are small, drab, running birds, which avoid flying. The female is the more brightly coloured of the sexes, and initiates courtship. Unusually, the buttonquails are polyandrous, with the females circulating among several males and expelling rival females from her territory. Both sexes cooperate in building a nest in the earth, but only the male incubates the eggs and tends the young. The eggs hatch after an incubation period of 12 or 13 days, and the young are able to fly within two weeks of hatching.
Buttonquail were traditionally placed in Gruiformes or Galliformes (the crane and pheasant orders). The Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy elevated them to ordinal status as the Turniciformes and basal to other Neoaves either because their accelerated rate of molecular evolution exceeded the limits of sensitivity of DNA-DNA hybridization or because the authors did not perform the appropriate pairwise comparisons or both. Morphological, DNA-DNA hybridization and sequence data indicate that turnicids correctly belong to the shorebirds (Charadriiformes). They seem to be an ancient group among these, as indicated by the buttonquail-like Early Oligocene fossil Turnipax and the collected molecular data.
The buttonquails are a group of small terrestrial birds. The smallest species is the Quail-plover, the only species in the genus Ortyxelos, which is 10 cm (3.9 in) in length and weighs only 20 g (0.71 oz). The buttonquails in the genus Turnix range from 12–23 cm (4.7–9.1 in) in length and weigh between 30–130 g (1.1–4.6 oz). They superficially resemble the true quails of the genus Coturnix, but differ from them in lacking a hind toe and a crop. The females of this family also possess a unique vocal organ created by an enlarged trachea and inflatable bulb in the oesophagus, which they use to produce a booming call.
* Genus: Ortyxelos
1. ^ Archibald, George W. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph. ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 101. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.
* Sibley, Charles Gald & Ahlquist, Jon Edward (1990): Phylogeny and classification of birds. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.
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