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 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.