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Quail Thrushes and Whipbirds: Eupetidae

Spotted Quail-thrush (cinclosoma Punctatum): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Spotted quail-thrushes range in length from 10.2 to 11 inches (26 to 28 centimeters), and weigh between 2.4 and 3.1 ounces (67 and 87 grams). Their plumage is a mottled blend of white, buff, rust or reddish brown, brown, and black. They have light brown heads with a white brow stripe. Their throats are black with a white patch, and their breasts are a pinkish tone.

Geographic range: The spotted quail-thrush can be found in southeast Australia, Tasmania, and in the Mount Lofty Ranges, in south-central Australia.

Spotted quail-thrushes prefer living on the ground, and are sedentary, secretive, and shy. (Illustration by John Megahan. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: Spotted quail-thrushes live in eucalyptus forest with a littered, open floor, and prefer areas on rocky hillsides.

Diet: Spotted quail-thrushes tend to be insectivores, eating insects and other invertebrates, but they also eat small vertebrates and seeds at times. They pick their prey from the ground which they hunt in a slow, meandering fashion.

Behavior and reproduction: Spotted quail-thrushes prefer living on the ground, and are sedentary, stay in one place, secretive, and shy. If they are frightened they will take flight in a way similar to a quail. When they land, the spotted quail-thrushes will run off quickly, or freeze in position.

Their vocalizations are a repeated, double-note song, as well as a high thin contact call, inaudible to the average person.

Spotted quail-thrushes have a breeding season from late July-August to December. The female builds the cup-like nest of dry vegetation and puts the nest into a depression in the ground near the base of a tree, shrub, rock, or clump of grass. The female also incubates, sits on and warms, the clutch of two spotted eggs, but the male helps to feed the chicks during and after the nineteen day fledging period, when chicks grow the feathers needed for flight. In any breeding season, one to three broods may be raised.

Spotted quail-thrushes and people: There is no known significance between spotted quail-thrushes and people.

Conservation status: Spotted quail-thrushes are locally common, but are sparsely populated. Those in the Mt. Lofty Ranges, South Australia, are Critically Endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, and may already be extinct. They are threatened by loss of habitat due to clearance and fragmentation. ∎



Blakers, M., S. J. J. F. Davies, and P. N. Reilly. The Atlas of Australian Birds. Carlton, Australia: Melbourne University Press, 1984.

Campbell, Bruce, and Elizabeth Lack, eds. A Dictionary of Birds. Vermillion, SD: Buteo Books, 1985.

Coates, Brian J. "Passerines." In The Birds of Papua New Guinea. Vol. 2. Alderley, Australia: Dove Publications, 1993.

Simpson, Ken, and Nicolas Day. The Birds of Australia. Dover, NH: Tanager Books, 1984.

Web sites:

"Crowdy Bay National Park Fauna." Crowdy Bay National Park. http://www.harringtoncrowdy.com/HarringtonCrowdyBayNPFaunaList.html (accessed on June 19, 2004).

Dettmann, Belinda. "Number 24." Flightline. http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/science/abbbs/pubs/jan-2000.pdf (accessed on June 19, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsQuail Thrushes and Whipbirds: Eupetidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Australian Chats And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE