Yellow-legged buttonquail

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The yellow-legged buttonquail (Turnix tanki) belongs to the family Turnicidae. These yellow-legged buttonquail species are unrelated to true quails. These Turnix tanki species of buttonquails are endemic to the Indian subcontinent and eastern and southeastern Asian countries.

Taxonomy of Yellow-legged buttonquail

  • Scientific Name: Turnix sylvaticus
  • Common Name: Yellow-legged buttonquail
  • French: Turnix indien; German: Rotnacken-Laufhühnchen; Spanish: Torillo tanki;
  • Other names: common yellow-legged buttonquail;
  • Family: Turnicidae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: Blyth, 1843
The two recognized subspecies of Turnix tanki are: Turnix tanki tanki and Turnix tanki blanfordii. Turnix tanki is closely related to Turnix maculosus.
Birds of India - Yellow-legged buttonquail - Turnix tanki
Indian birds - Yellow-legged buttonquail - Turnix tanki


The yellow-legged buttonquails are small birds measuring 15 to 20 cm in length. The female birds are larger than the male yellow legged Turnix species. The female bird weighs between 40 to 120 grams and the male weighs between 35 to 80 grams. The female birds are more colorful and develop a bright rufous nape collar during the breeding season. The male has a black crown with a buff margin. The head is buff, while the throat and belly are pale buff. The underside of the tail coverts fade into white. There is reddish and dark brown vermiculations and spotting on the sides and wings. The legs are bright yellow and the feet are deep yellow in both the genders of Turnix sp. The beak is pale yellow in males whereas the females have bright yellow beak. The irises in males are whitish and in females are creamy white to yellow-brown.


The yellow-legged buttonquail is found to inhabit grasslands and dry agricultural fields. They are mostly ground dwellers and run and hide among vegetation when threatened.

Feeding habits

The yellow-legged buttonquail feeds on plant material including grass, leaves and seeds. This yellow footed Turnix sp. also feeds on a variety of invertebrates including ants, grasshoppers, beetles, insect larvae and worms.


The yellow-legged buttonquail breed between March and November. The nest is scooped on the ground and may have a roof of bent vegetation. The females are polyandrous. After laying eggs, the female may move away and partner with another male to lay another clutch of eggs. The male Turnix sp. incubates the eggs and cares for the chicks. The Turnix sp. clutch may contain up to four eggs and the eggs hatch in about fifteen days.


The yellow-legged buttonquail subspecies Turnix t. tanki is distributed in Pakistan, India and Nepal, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The subspecies Turnix t. blanfordii is found in Myanmar, Indochina and eastern China. Migrant birds are found in peninsular Korea and southeast Russia.

Movement Patterns

The yellow-legged buttonquail subspecies T. t. tanki is resident in its range. The subspecies T. t. blanfordii migrates to peninsular Korea and southeast Russia for breeding.

Status and conservation

The yellow-legged buttonquail global population size has not been quantified and they are common in their range. Habitat destruction and agricultural expansion are the main threats to the survival of these yellow footed Turnix tanki species.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these yellow-legged buttonquail species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Turnix tanki
Species:Turnix tanki
Binomial name:Turnix tanki
Distribution:endemic to Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia;
Feeding habits:Turnix tanki feeds on seeds, grass, seeds, invertebrates, insects and worms;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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