The Spotted Quail-thrush is a highly patterned, elusive bird that camouflages well on the forest floor. It is endemic to eastern and south-eastern Australia.
The male Spotted Quail-thrush has a black face and throat, and a white eyebrow and throat patch. Males also have a grey breast and spotted flanks. Females lack the black throat, but instead have a yellow-ochre throat patch.
Endemic to eastern and south-eastern Australia from Rockhampton (Qld) to the east of Tasmania and in western Victoria to the Grampians NP. The subspecies anachoreta of the Mt Lofty Ranges (SA) was last recorded in 1983 and is likely to be extinct. An undescribed population of Spotted Quail-thrush has recently been found on the western side of Queensland’s Atherton Tableland.
The Spotted Quail-thrush lives in dry open sclerophyll forests and woodlands mainly with an open or sparse understorey and sparse to no ground cover. They avoid moist or wet habitats such as coastal lowland rainforests, preferring forest dominated by ironbarks, mallee eucalypts, or Spotted Gum forests with an open understorey on dry rocky ridges. In Victoria, they inhabit dry forests and woodlands with few shrubs and a grassy or rocky ground layer.
The Spotted Quail-thrush is usually seen singly or in twos and, occasionally, in small family groups of up to five birds. Spotting one of these birds in the bush is seldom an easy task. When disturbed, the species prefers to hide rather than take flight, often freezing until it is almost underfoot; only then do they flush, with an audible quail-like whirring of their wings, flying low in a swift, strongly undulating dash for 50–100 metres before pitching abruptly onto the ground (almost at right angles) and disappearing into cover.
They maintain contact with one another by uttering a thin, almost inaudible seep note, which is often the first indication of a bird’s presence. Males occasionally sing from bare sticks or branches.
Foraging birds are usually seen moving over leaf-litter on the forest floor, with a slow, meandering walk, a crouching run, or walking or running over or among rocks and fallen timber. They eat seeds and insects and even, occasionally, small vertebrates such as lizards.
Breeding usually takes place between July – Feb with a clutch size of 2 or sometimes 3 eggs. The nest is a round, open, loosely built cup usually with a platform of leaves at the entrance. These nests are built on the ground, often in a slight depression, under or against a fallen log or large stone, or at the base of tree trunks or other vegetation. Incubation is by the female only and is for approx 14 days. Sometimes the male feeds the female, away from the nest, but when foraging, the female can be absent for long periods