Hihi volunteer needed

Date posted: 18-Oct-2018

Would you like to volunteer with the Island's hihi team and learn from them how ..

2019 Calendars now available

Date posted: 05-Sep-2018

The new 2019 calendars are now available and this year's is better than ever! Th..

Winners of kokako photo competition

Date posted: 02-Sep-2018

The stunning winning photographs from those submitted to the competition as part..

Kokako Celebration

Date posted: 21-Jul-2018


Kokako Photographic Competition

Date posted: 20-Jul-2018

KĊŒKAKO PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION Celebrating 21 years on Tiritiri Matangi To ce..

New monitoring reports published

Date posted: 19-Jul-2018

Reports on monitoring studies carried out over the past year have now been poste..

2018 Concert coming up soon

Date posted: 15-Feb-2018

Our 2018 concert will feature an afternoon of light classics and jazz courtesy of the Auckland Ph..

Wetapunga talk coming soon

Date posted: 05-Feb-2018

For the Social on 19 March the speaker will be Ben Goodwin of Auckland Zoo, who will talk about t..

Rat caught and now takahe released from pens

Date posted: 28-Jan-2018

Thankfully DOC staff Andre de Graaf and Polly Hall and their assistants have trapped the rat whic..

Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

Aka - The Grand Christmas Shopping Expedition to Tiritiri Matangi Island Shop Dreading..

Brown Quail 

Scientific name:

 Coturnix ypsilophora australis



Conservation status:  Introduced and naturalised

Mainland status:

 Moderately common north of Waikato and Bay of Plenty
 area. Common in Northland


 18cm, 100g


 Not known


 September - January


 Mainly grass, weed, and shrub seeds, some vegetation, flowers and

Brown Quail - photographer: Val SmythemanThe brown quail was introduced to both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, from Australia, around the 1860s. They now only survive in the North Island.  

They have a small round dumpy body, dark eyes and a grey bill. There are subtle differences between the male and female plumage. Both sexes look generally brown and streaky with hints of chestnut, grey, white and black. The female has a streakier appearance, the white lines on her back and wings contrasting with the black and light brown background (see photo below left). The male has more chestnut and grey in his plumage, with a strong chevron pattern on his breast and flanks and and less prominent streaking on wings and back (see photo right). The call is a plaintive 'ker-wee' with a rising inflexion, heard most often in spring.

The brown quail is mainly herbivorous; they favour the seeds of fallen grasses, weeds and shrubs, and supplement this diet with vegetation, flowers and insects. 

Brown Quail - photographer: Simon FordhamBreeding takes place between September and January, laying 7-12 eggs in a ground level nest beneath thick vegetation. The nest itself is a slight depression lined with grasses. The female alone incubates for around 21 days, the young chicks leaving the nest when extremely small and vulnerable.

Brown quail are seen frequently on Tiritiri Matangi, usually in the short grass on the road margins, on the forest floor, or dust-bathing on the tracks. They are reluctant to fly and usually scurry off into the undergrowth when approached too closely, but when they do fly it is with a fast, loud, whirring flight. 

Find out more about the brown quail at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photography by: Val Smytheman  © (top right) and Simon Fordham © (bottom left)

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking.