Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cap'n, There Be Quails Here!

About 11 months ago, I wrote about a family of blue scrub jays that had nested in our backyard. Those fledglings are long gone (though I wonder if some of the babies I so carefully nurtured have grown into the annoying squawkers who dominate our bird feeder--if so, nice payback, guys), but today we found that another family has assumed their lease: Quail.

We count seven young'uns. Sorry the picture quality isn't better...

We've seen Dad around a lot in the past week. He's particularly handsome, a finely plumed dandy. He flies pretty well for a quail, too. We've been surprised to notice him watching us from high tree branches overhead. This morning the reasons for his diligence introduced themselves by scrambling over to a small shallow birdbath we have sitting in the dirt, taking a quick refreshing dip, then scurrying back to cover. I couldn't catch it with the camera, but there was a squirrel sitting nearby watching them the entire time, while one of our cats was perched on the windowsill watching both quail and squirrel and cursing the inventor of glass.

Family photo of Dad, Mom and a couple of chicks

I like the idea of our little suburban yard being a nature preserve. Once word gets out, there'll be no keeping the critters away.


Namowal said...

I like quail.
Ever notice that most western birds are plainer than their eastern counterparts? Compare the Scrub Jay to the Blue Jay, the American Goldfinch to the Lesser Goldfinch, or the Northern Cardinal to the Pyrrhuloxia.
Not so with California Quails. They're way more dapper than the Bobwhites back east.

Sherwood Harrington said...

What a hoot! Delightful, Brian, thanks!

Brian Fies said...

Namowal, interesting observation, I wonder if there's some naturalistic/evolutionary explanation for it (more competition back east?). Unfortunately I don't have much experience with eastern birds. For example, I've never seen a cardinal. But I'm a fan of our quail, and we've got red-tail hawks in the region that'd take your breath away. Red-wing blackbirds whose scarlet epaulets almost look fluorescent. I appreciate what I've got.