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Andalusian Buttonquail observed in Algeria

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

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

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

The Andalusian Buttonquail – affectionately known in Europe as Andalusian Hemipode – is the Mediterranean endemic subspecies of the widespread Common Buttonquail. After it was officially declared extinct in Spain (and thus in Southern Europe), the species 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 the 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 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”.

After realizing 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.

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).

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:

Andalusian Buttonquail in Morocco in decline (recent study).

Andalusian Buttonquail in Spain is officially declared extinct.

3 thoughts on “Andalusian Buttonquail observed in Algeria”

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

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