Andalusian Buttonquail observed in Algeria for the first time in three decades

By MaghrebOrnitho | 3 December 2019

The Andalusian Buttonquail observed in Algeria for the first time after almost three decades without known sightings.

Le Turnix d’Andalousie observé en Algérie pour la première fois après une absence d’observations pendant près de trois décennies.

Andalusian Buttonquail / Turnix d’Andalousie (Turnix sylvaticus sylvaticus), north-east Algeria, 29 Nov. 2019 (Moussa Houache).
Andalusian Buttonquail / Turnix d’Andalousie (Turnix sylvaticus sylvaticus), north-east Algeria, 29 Nov. 2019 (Moussa Houache).

Andalusian Buttonquail (Turnix sylvaticus sylvaticus) is the Mediterranean endemic subspecies of the Common Buttonquail. After it went extinct in southern Europe, the Andalusian Buttonquail is now restricted to Northwest Africa. The well-known population in Morocco is declining according to the latest data. Although the species has not been recorded in Algeria since early 1990s, it has never been declared extinct as some wrongly assumed.

Confused with Common Quail and shot

The bird was shot in north-east Algeria during a hunting trip on 29 November 2019. Moussa Houache who shot the bird was hunting the Common Quail, a species that superficially resemble the Buttonquail. Moussa said: “I was hunting the Common Quails, and when this bird flew in front of the dogs I shot it, but as soon as the dog brought it to me I discovered it was a strange bird”. So, after realising that the shot bird is not the Common Quail he is familiar with, Moussa took to social media to ask about the identity of the bird.

Although some commenters focused on the negative side (i.e. hunting a rare and endangered species), the majority focused on the positive side of the story and thanked the hunter for photographing the bird and sharing his observation.

In any case, this is a very good news.

Absence of sightings does not mean extinction 

This is yet another example why declaring the local extinction of a given species in a given region solely based on “expert opinions” is very bad. Already mentioned this about the Bearded Vulture in Algeria and elsewhere in this blog. A species should be considered as extinct only after a thorough search as happened with this same species in Spain in 2018.

Read more:

The Andalusian Buttonquail population in Morocco is declining.

The Andalusian Buttonquail in Spain is officially declared extinct.

Andalusian Buttonquail / Turnix d’Andalousie (Turnix sylvaticus sylvaticus), north-east Algeria, 29 Nov. 2019 (Moussa Houache).
Andalusian Buttonquail / Turnix d’Andalousie (Turnix sylvaticus sylvaticus), north-east Algeria, 29 Nov. 2019 (Moussa Houache).
Andalusian Buttonquail / Turnix d’Andalousie (Turnix sylvaticus sylvaticus), north-east Algeria, 29 Nov. 2019 (Moussa Houache).
Andalusian Buttonquail / Turnix d’Andalousie (Turnix sylvaticus sylvaticus), north-east Algeria, 29 Nov. 2019 (Moussa Houache).

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3 thoughts on “Andalusian Buttonquail observed in Algeria for the first time in three decades

  1. Hafeda Benmammar

    Comme vous le dite si on n’observe pas une espèce cela ne veut pas dire qu’elle est éteinte. Le Turnix d’Andalousie, certes il est rare et discret, mais nous l’avons observé à l’ouest algérien.. et nous savons qu’il n’est pas éteint au moins dans ce coté de l’Algérie. L’espèce n’est pas chassable en Algérie.

    Reply
    1. Giroud

      Effectivement, il est étonnant d’entendre parler de redécouverte alors que l’espèce n’a jamais disparue d’Algérie et qu’il existe plusieurs observations dans les environs d’Annaba… au Nord-Est de l’Algérie.

      Reply
      1. MaghrebOrnitho Post author

        Merci Mme Benmammar and Mr Giroud pour vos commentaires. Tout à fait d’accord avec vous, et c’est pourquoi je n’ai pas utilisé le mot «redécouverte» dans ce blog. Parfois, des auteurs font des généralisations basées uniquement sur les données de certaines régions, et ce n’est pas nécessairement une bonne pratique comme dans le cas particulier de cette espèce.

        Reply

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