Sunday, 17 August 2014

Himalayan Quail

Animal of the Month


Himalayan Quail; Illustration by Tomasz Cofta

What's so special about it?

If you see this bird, you will possibly make news headlines around the world. The last verified sighting of the Himalayan Quail (Ophrysia superciliosa) was in 1876, and some authorities consequently list it as an extinct species. If the bird still exists, it doesn't assist in its own rediscovery; it has always been considered a difficult species to observe, only flying up out of dense grassland when it is in danger of being stood on.

Where can I see one?

As its name suggests, the Himalayan Quail is only known from the Himalayan Ranges, specifically the western section of these mountains in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The location is remote and the Quail's preferred habitat is the isolated mountainside grasslands and scrubs in the area. This inaccessibility fuels hope that somewhere among these majestic pinnacles and valleys, a tiny population of these birds may survive. 


Is there anything similar near Brisbane?

King Quail; Photo by Dick Daniels
We have two resident quail species in Brisbane. The most common is the Brown Quail (Coturnix ypsilophora), a chubby mottled bird found in most grasslands and swamps. The King Quail (Coturnix chinensis) is rare by comparison, yet more familiar to most people thanks to its prominence in aviaries and on Chinese restaurant menus. The shores of Lake Samsonvale - particularly around the cemetery at the end of Golds Scrub Lane - are a good place to see wild populations of both species.

Himalayan Quail illustration courtesy of Tomasz Cofta at Pixark.
King Quail photograph courtesy of Dick Daniels at Wikipedia.


10 comments:

  1. well, the king quail is exotic to me, too. :)

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    1. So you didn't have one to keep your owl-faced finch company? :)

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  2. a well rounded article on these quails Christian

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    1. Thanks Carole, I've always liked these secretive little birds.

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  3. Great post, Christian! I love all the Quails.. I have only seen the Gambel's Quail here in the states.. I would love to see them all.. Have a great day!

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    1. Thanks Eileen! I just had a look at the Gambel's Quail and it's a very beautiful species. It looks similar to the California Quail, which was introduced to Australia in a few locations but (thankfully!) wasn't established permanently. Would love to see both species in the USA sometime though! :)

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  4. Great post and very informative for a person from different continent.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Gosia and I'm glad you found it informative! :)

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  5. I guess it's not stopped raining yet? As you imply these quail species (and rails) don't exactly look after their own interests. Our European Quail has an advantage in being very vocal but seeing one is an entirely different matter to test the endurance and patience of any birder.

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    1. It has rained every single day I've been ready to go out! Luckily there's a stretch of sunny weather lined up for my next few days off.

      Your European Quail must have passed on its tricks to our Brown Quail here - I know it's common, but I'll be damned if I can get a glimpse of them!

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