New Caledonian Buttonquail Turnix novaecaledoniae


Justification of Red List Category
This newly split species has apparently not been recorded for over a century; however, there remains a possibility that a tiny population still exists. It is therefore listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct).

Population justification
Given that this species has apparently not been recorded since the early 20th century, it is expected that any extant population numbers fewer than 50 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The trend of any extant population is not known.

Distribution and population

Turnix novaecaledoniae is endemic to New Caledonia, where it is described as rare or possibly already extinct (Madge and McGowan 2002, Dutson 2011). It is known from the type specimen in the British Museum, described by Ogilvie-Grant in 1889 and from a 1911 specimen taken at Kone by Sarasin (Warner 1947). Fossil specimens of this taxon were collected from Mé Auré Cave by Boyer et al. (2010), who showed evidence for a sustained decline in abundance over time and regarded it as extinct. However, fossils found at shallow depths at the Pindai Caves by Anderson et al. (2010) make its extinction less certain. In 1944-1945, local residents reported that T. novaecaledoniae was present in grassland areas between Poya and Pam in the north of the island (Warner 1947), although the interpretation of such reports is hindered by the apparent introduction of  Turnix varia to New Caledonia from Australia several times (per Warner 1947). Although surveys and fieldwork conducted since the early 20th century have not recorded T. novaecaledoniae (Warner 1947, Ekstrom et al. 2002, Barré et al. 2009), these efforts are not regarded as comprehensive by Szabo et al. (2012). If any population remains extant it is expected to be tiny.


This species is known from the grasslands of the west coast and perhaps in the north of the island (Warner 1947).


Threats include habitat clearance and degradation through agricultural intensification, urbanisation, grazing and fire, as well as the effects of hunting and introduced predators (Madge and McGowan 2002).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to search for extant populations. Conduct awareness-raising activities to increase the potential for sightings by non-specialists. Increase the area of suitable habitat that is protected.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Symes, A., Taylor, J., North, A.

Boyer, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Turnix novaecaledoniae. Downloaded from on 11/07/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 11/07/2020.