Quail courtship ground?

I recently followed a quail as it moved ahead of me through the tall, sparse grass, staying about 5 m in front. It was on dusk, colour was fading and it soon outpaced me and disappeared, before I could get a good look at it. We have Painted Button-quail, Stubble Quail and Brown Quail in our area.

I went back the next day wanting to see the bird again but, as on several subsequent visits to the location, it was nowhere to be found. But! I did find this intriguing scene in the grass.

So, whose handiwork is it? Reptile, bird, quail??

The last three images are from 2009 when I found a dead Painted Button-quail that was being rapidly picked clean by wasps – one of the few occasions I’ve had to get a really good look at a bird.

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2 Responses to Quail courtship ground?

  1. peonyden says:

    These bare patches on the ground are made deliberately by Button-quails.
    “Often the first sign that a Painted Button-quail is present in a dry, open forest is not a sighting of the bird, nor hearing its call, but a shallow depression of bare soil among the leaf litter. These bare patches, round and about 15 centimetres across, are called platelets. Painted Button-quails forage for seeds and insects on the ground by spinning about on alternate legs to expose items of food among the leaves and on the soil surface, and it is this action that forms the platelets.”
    I watched one doing it myself, directly outside my window.

  2. Thanks Denis. Though a ‘quail’ was my working hypothesis, I couldn’t find anything in the literature about these bare areas, but then I didn’t search for ‘platelets’. The links on your post about PBQ were very useful. There’s another interesting reference here http://bioacoustics.cse.unsw.edu.au/birding-aus/2002-06/msg00153.html . I only found one platelet and it seemed very well worked, hence my thought about it being a display area. I’ll go back and look more closely. Cheers, Bert.

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