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GALLIFORMES Quails, pheasants, and turkeys

The information presented here is identical to that contained in the fifth edition of the Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand (Checklist Committee 2022). To access a pdf version of the Checklist click here.

➤ Indicates a species (cf. subspecies)
Indicates a species (or other taxon) introduced to the New Zealand region
† Indicates an extinct taxon

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Order GALLIFORMES: Game Birds

We follow the classification for Galliformes recommended by T. Crowe et al. (2006) and Ksepka (2009).

Holdaway et al. (2001) considered that Cheeseman’s (1891) second-hand record of megapodes from Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands / Rangitāhua, before the 1870 volcanic eruption has veracity. However, we feel that Holocene skeletal remains are required before this record is accepted.

Family *NUMIDIDAE Reichenbach: Guineafowl

Numidinae Reichenbach, 1850: Avium Syst. Nat.: 26 – Type genus Numida Linnaeus, 1766.

Genus *Numida Linnaeus

Numida Linnaeus, 1766: Syst. Nat., 12th edition, 1: 273 – Type species (by monotypy) Phasianus meleagris Linnaeus = Numida meleagris (Linnaeus).

➤ *Numida meleagris (Linnaeus)
Helmeted Guineafowl

Phasianus Meleagris Linnaeus, 1758: Syst. Nat., 10th edition, 1: 158 – Africa, restricted to upper Nile, Nubia (fide Peters 1934, Check-list Birds World 2: 134).

Numida ptilorhyncha Lesson, 1831: Traité d’Ornith. 7: 498 – Africa.

Numida ptilorhyncha Licht. [sic]; Hutton 1871, Cat. Birds N.Z.: 69.

Numida meleagris (Linnaeus); Checklist Committee 1953, Checklist N.Z. Birds: 38.

Africa, south of the Sahara. First introduced to Canterbury in the 1860s and subsequently elsewhere in North and South Islands, and Raoul Island in the Kermadec Islands / Rangitāhua. Wild populations present in rough farmland in a few New Zealand localities (C. Robertson et al. 2007). Some of the records from the Auckland region may be semi-domesticated (Bull et al. 1985). The oldest, apparently established, population is inland from Whanganui (Oliver 1955) but its current status is unknown. At least nine subspecies. New Zealand stock assumed to be from domesticated origin (thus either N. m. meleagris or N. m. galeata).

Family *ODONTOPHORIDAE Gould: American Quails

Odontophorinae Gould, 1844: Monograph Odontophorinae 1: 1 – Type genus Odontophorus Vieillot, 1816.

Genus *Callipepla Wagler

Callipepla Wagler, 1832: Isis von Oken, Heft 2: col. 277 – Type species (by monotypy) Callipepla strenua Wagler = Callipepla squamata Vigors.

Lophortyx Bonaparte, 1838: Geogr. Comp. List. Birds: 42 – Type species (by subsequent designation) Tetrao californicus Shaw = Callipepla californica (Shaw).

➤ *Callipepla californica (Shaw)
California Quail | Tikaokao

Tetrao californicus Shaw, 1798: in Shaw & Nodder, Nat. Miscell. 9: text to pl.345 – Monterey, California, USA.

Western North America from southern British Columbia to Baja California. Introduced to Hawai’i, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

*Callipepla californica brunnescens (Ridgway)
California Quail | Tikaokao

Ortyx californica Stephens [sic]; Hutton 1871, Cat. Birds N.Z.: 67. Not Tetrao californicus Shaw, 1798.

Lophortyx californicus brunnescens Ridgway, 1884: Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 2: 94 – “Santa Barbara, California”, error for San Francisco, California, USA (fide Peters 1934, Check-list Birds World 2: 44).

Ortyx californicus; Buller 1888 (Mar.), History of the Birds of N.Z., 2nd edition 1(part 6): 226. Not Tetrao californicus Shaw, 1798.

Lophortyx californica brunnescens Ridgway; Checklist Committee 1953, Checklist N.Z. Birds: 37. Emendation.

Lophortyx californica; Wakelin 1968, Notornis 15: 162. Not Tetrao californicus Shaw, 1798.

Callipepla californica brunnescens (Ridgway); Checklist Committee 1990, Checklist Birds N.Z.: 113.

South-west Oregon and California (Marchant & Higgins 1993). Introduced to New Zealand from 1865 to 1875 in both North and South Islands (Thomson 1922) with subsequent liberations of New Zealand-bred stock. Now widely distributed on both main islands, and some settled offshore islands (G. Williams 1963, 1967; C. Robertson et al. 2007). No longer present on the Chatham Islands (Miskelly et al. 2006).

Family PHASIANIDAE Vigors: Partridges, Quails, Pheasants, and Turkeys

Phasianidae Vigors, 1825: Zoological Journ. 2: 402 – Type genus Phasianus Linnaeus, 1758.

Subfamily COTURNICINAE Bonaparte: Old World Quails

Coturnicinae Bonaparte, 1853: Compt. Rend. Séa. Acad. Sci., Paris 37(18): 646 – Type genus Coturnix Garsault, 1764.

Genus Coturnix Bonnaterre

Coturnix Bonnaterre, 1791: Tableaux Encycl. Méthod. Ornith. 1(47): lxxxvii – Type species (by tautonymy) “Caille”, Coturnix communis Bonnaterre = Coturnix coturnix Linnaeus.

Zecoturnix Iredale & Mathews, 1926: Bull. Brit. Ornith. Club 46: 76 – Type species (by original designation) Coturnix novaezelandiae Quoy & Gaimard.

➤ Coturnix novaezelandiae Quoy & Gaimard
New Zealand Quail | Koreke

Coturnix Novae-Zelandiae Quoy & Gaimard, 1830: in Dumont d’Urville, Voyage Astrolabe Zool. 1: 242, pl. 24, fig. 1 – Hauraki Gulf.

Coturnix Novae Zealandiae Quoy & Gaimard; G.R. Gray 1843, in E. Dieffenbach, Travels in N.Z. 2: 195. Unjustified emendation.

Coturnix Novae Zelandiae Quoy [sic]; Anon. 1870, Cat. Colonial Mus.: 74. Unjustified emendation.

Coturnix novae zealandiae Quoy & Gaimard; Buller 1872 (Dec.), History of the Birds of N.Z., 1st edition (part 3): 161. Unjustified emendation.

Coturnix novae-zealandiae Quoy & Gaimard; Travers 1883, Trans. Proc. N.Z. Inst. 15: 186. Unjustified emendation.

Coturnix novaezealandiae Quoy & Gaimard; Mathews & Iredale 1913, Ibis 1 (10th series): 207. Unjustified emendation.

Zecoturnix novae-zelandiae (Quoy & Gaimard); Mathews 1930, Emu 29: 279.

Coturnix novaezealandiae pounami Mathews, 1944: Emu 43: 247 – Port Cooper, Canterbury. Unjustified emendation.

Coturnix novaezealandiae novaezealandiae Quoy & Gaimard; Checklist Committee 1953, Checklist N.Z. Birds: 37. Unjustified emendation.

Coturnix novaezelandiae novaezelandiae Quoy & Gaimard; Checklist Committee 1990, Checklist Birds N.Z.: 115.

Coturnix novaezelandiae Quoy & Gaimard; Marchant & Higgins 1993, HANZAB 2: 402.

At times the New Zealand quail has been regarded as conspecific with the stubble quail Coturnix pectoralis Gould, 1837 of Australia and Tasmania (e.g. van Tets 1978; Checklist Committee 1990), which was unsuccessfully introduced to New Zealand in the 1870s (Marchant & Higgins 1993; see Appendix 2). More recently, separation of C. novaezelandiae and C. pectoralis has been accepted (e.g. Marchant & Higgins 1993; Dickinson 2003) as advocated by Oliver (1955). New Zealand: North, South, and Great Barrier / Aotea Islands. A bird of open grasslands. Still common by 1848, when as many as 86 could be shot on one day; on the verge of extinction by 1870. The last North Island sighting was Dec. 1869; the last reliable South Island observation was in 1875, with latest specimens collected 1867 or 1868. The reasons for the disappearance are uncertain but it coincides with the establishment of cats and probable ongoing predation by Norway rats (Tennyson & Martinson 2007: 11, 64, 143, 149). Late Pleistocene and Holocene remains from numerous sites in both main islands, especially dunes; common in middens (Worthy & Holdaway 2002).

Genus *Synoicus Gould

Synoicus Gould, 1843: Birds of Australia 5: pl. 89 and text – Type species (by monotypy) Perdix australis Latham = Synoicus ypsilophora australis (Latham).

Synaecus Agassiz, 1846: Nomen. Zool. Index Univ. Aves 2. Unjustified emendation.

Ypsilophorus Mathews, 1912: Austral Avian Rec. 1: 112. Unnecessary nomen novum for Synoicus Gould, 1843, which is not a junior homonym of Synoicum Phipps, 1774.

Seabrook-Davison et al. (2009) and Kimball et al. (2011) revealed the genus Coturnix to be paraphyletic. We follow Dickinson & Remsen (2013), Clements et al. (2019), and F. Gill et al. (2021) in resurrecting the genus Synoicus for brown quail (S. ypsilophorus) and blue-breasted quail (S. chinensis chinensis) (see Appendix 2 for the latter).

➤ *Synoicus ypsilophorus (Bosc)
Brown Quail

Coturnix ypsilophorus Bosc, 1792: Journ. d’Hist. Natur. 2: 297, pl. 39 – no locality = Tasmania (fide Mathews 1913, List Birds Australia: 7).

Synoicus ypsilophorus (Bosc); Checklist Committee 1953, Checklist N.Z. Birds: 37.

Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia (north, south-west, east, and Tasmania) (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

*Synoicus ypsilophorus australis (Latham)
Australian Brown Quail | Kuera

Perdix australis Latham, 1801: Index Ornith. Suppl.: lxii – New South Wales, Australia.

Synoicus australis (Latham); Buller 1888 (Mar.), History of the Birds of N.Z., 2nd edition 1(part 6): 226.

Synaecus australis Temminck [sic]; Hamilton 1909, Hand-list birds New Zealand: 18.

Synoicus ypsilophorus; Checklist Committee 1953, Checklist N.Z. Birds: 37. Not Coturnix ypsilophorus Bosc, 1792.

Coturnix ypsilophora australis (Latham); Marchant & Higgins 1993, HANZAB 2: 404.

Synoicus ypsilophorus australis (Latham); Dickinson & Remsen 2013, Howard & Moore Complete Checklist Birds World, 4th edition, 1: 34.

Mainland Australia. Introduced to New Zealand and widely liberated in the 1860s and 1870s in both North and South Islands (Thomson 1922). Now surviving only in the North Island: common in Northland, and scattered elsewhere as far south as Wairarapa; also on northern offshore islands – Manawatāwhi / Three Kings, Great Barrier / Aotea, Hauturu / Little Barrier, Tiritiri Matangi, Mayor / Tuhua, Mercury, The Aldermen, and Moutohora / Whale Islands (C. Robertson et al. 2007). Although introductions from Australia came from both the Australian mainland (S. y. australis) and Tasmania (S. y. ypsilophora), recent specimens are referable only to S. y. australis (Oliver 1955; Marchant & Higgins 2003; see Appendix 2). Recorded on Manawatāwhi / Three Kings Islands as early as 1887; Turbott & Buddle (1948) discussed the possibility that it reached northern New Zealand by self-introduction before the 1860–70 liberations. We do not accept this argument due to the possibility of misidentification with C. novaezelandiae. Seabrook-Davison et al. (2009) reported that New Zealand populations were genetically identical to the northern Australian subspecies S. y. cervina; however, Marchant & Higgins (1993) recognised a single subspecies from mainland Australia (S. y. australis) and suggested that “taxonomy [was] in need of review”.

Genus *Alectoris Kaup

Alectoris Kaup, 1829: Skizz. Entw.-Gesch. Eur. Thierw.: 180, 193 – Type species (by monotypy) Perdix petrosa of authors (not Gmelin) = Alectoris barbara (Bonnaterre).

➤ *Alectoris chukar (J.E. Gray)

Perdix Chukar J.E. Gray, 1830: in Hardwicke, Illust. Indian Zool. 1(2), pl. 54 – India, restricted to Srinagar, Kumaon (fide Peters 1934, Check-list Birds World 2: 65).

Alectoris graeca chukar (J.E. Gray); Checklist Committee 1953, Checklist N.Z. Birds: 38.

Alectoris chukar (J.E. Gray); Checklist Committee 1970, Annot. Checklist Birds N.Z.: 40.

Eurasia from south-east Europe and Asia Minor east through central Asia to outer Mongolia (Marchant & Higgins 1993). Two subspecies, A. c. chukar and A. c. koroviakovi (Zarudny, 1914), were introduced to New Zealand and have probably interbred widely (G. Williams 1950, 1951). Now well established on the dry, rocky country of the eastern South Island from Marlborough to Central Otago (C. Robertson et al. 2007). Liberations in the North Island were unsuccessful (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Subfamily *PAVONINAE Rafinesque: Peafowls

Pavosia Rafinesque, 1815: Analyse de la Nature: 70 – Type genus Pavo Linnaeus, 1758.

Genus *Pavo Linnaeus

Pavo Linnaeus, 1758: Syst. Nat., 10th edition, 1: 136 – Type species (by tautonymy) Pavo = Pavo cristatus Linnaeus.

➤ *Pavo cristatus Linnaeus
Peafowl | Pīkao

Pavo cristatus Linnaeus, 1758: Syst. Nat., 10th edition, 1: 156 – “India orientali, Zeylona” = India.

Pavo cristatus Linnaeus; Checklist Committee 1953, Checklist N.Z. Birds: 38.

India and Sri Lanka. Deliberately introduced to New Zealand from 1843 (Thomson 1922). Increasingly common in Northland, western Firth of Thames, Coromandel, Rotorua district, Bay of Plenty, East Cape, King Country, Taranaki, Whanganui district, Gisborne, Mahia, and Hawke’s Bay, with some records from north-west Nelson, Marlborough, and Canterbury (C. Robertson et al. 2007). No subspecies.

Subfamily *MELEAGRIDINAE G.R. Gray: Turkeys

Meleagrinae G.R. Gray, 1840: List Gen. Birds (1st edition): 60 – Type genus Meleagris Linnaeus, 1758.

Genus *Meleagris Linnaeus

Meleagris Linnaeus, 1758: Syst. Nat., 10th edition, 1: 156 – Type species (by tautonymy) Meleagris = Meleagris gallopavo Linnaeus.

➤ *Meleagris gallopavo Linnaeus
Wild Turkey | Korukoru

North America, from north-east and central USA to Mexico (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

*Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo Linnaeus
Gould’s Wild Turkey

Meleagris gallopavo Linnaeus, 1758: Syst. Nat., 10th edition, 1: 156 – Mexico.

Meleagris gallipavo Linnaeus; Thomson 1922, Naturalisation Animals Plants New Zealand: 108. Unjustified emendation.

Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo Linnaeus; Peters 1934, Check-list Birds World 2: 140.

Meleagris gallopavo Linnaeus; Checklist Committee 1990, Checklist Birds N.Z.: 117.

Sierra Madre Mountains of north-west Mexico, New Mexico, and Arizona (Marchant & Higgins 1993). All domesticated turkeys stem from this subspecies. Wild stock originally introduced unsuccessfully to Hawke’s Bay, Nelson, and Canterbury in the early 1890s (Thomson 1922). Current population stems from subsequent introductions to Whanganui area in 1920 and Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, and Marlborough in the 1950s (Long 1981), as well as escapees from farms. Increasingly common in the wild in rough farmland throughout the North Island, and in north-west Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, and Central Otago (C. Robertson et al. 2007).

Subfamily PHASIANINAE Vigors: Pheasants and Monals

Phasianidae Vigors, 1825: Zoological Journ. 2: 402 – Type genus Phasianus Linnaeus, 1758.

Genus *Phasianus Linnaeus

Phasianus Linnaeus, 1758: Syst. Nat., 10th edition, 1: 158 – Type species (by tautonymy) Phasianus = Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus.

➤ *Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus
Common Pheasant

Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus, 1758: Syst. Nat., 10th edition, 1: 158 – “Africa, Asia”, restricted to the Rioni River Valley, western Transcaucasia.

Phasianus torquatus; Buller 1888 (Mar.), History of the Birds of N.Z., 2nd edition 1(part 6): 226. Not Phasianus torquatus Gmelin, 1789.

Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus; Checklist Committee 1953, Checklist N.Z. Birds: 37.

Asia from Asia Minor to Japan; widely introduced around the world and established in Europe, North America, Japan, islands of the Pacific Ocean, Australia, and New Zealand (Marchant & Higgins 1993). In New Zealand repeatedly introduced from 1842 onwards; local populations are still being reinforced by releases of New Zealand-bred stock. Most common in the North Island, and very sparse in the South Island, except around Nelson and Canterbury (C. Robertson et al. 2007). The New Zealand stock is derived from several interbreeding subspecies, though most individuals are probably hybrids between ring-necked pheasants Ph. c. torquatus and southern Caucasus (black-necked) pheasants Ph. c. colchicus (Westerskov 1963).