Monday, September 27, 2010

Quail Invasion

Our backyard is haven to many birds. Siskins, nuthatches, chickadees, great horned owls, western scrub jays, evening grosbeaks, red crossbills, and hairy woodpeckers are just some of the more recent regulars showing up at the feeders. But the real stars are the California quail.

They come in small family groups of 8 to 12 birds. Several adults accompany their broods; the males act as sentries while the rest feed. Some groups have different ages of juveniles, a testament to the covey mentality of the species.

The birds appear any time of the day, although early mornings and mid-afternoons seem the best. Attracted by the dove and quail feed that we spread on the ground and in some platform feeders, the quail keep their heads down and rapid-fire peck at the seeds.

California quail nest in our backyard

The sentry male

Another backyard male

Different aged fledglings

Up and over the fence
If we startle the covey, they burst for cover in the nearby junipers or clear the fences and descend into a neighbor's yard. But I know they will be back for another foraging round.

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