Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gambel's Quail

Quail are endlessly enjoyable.

Quiet, with almost cat-like stealth, they sneak out of the bush one by one, as cautious as can be.  Once in the open and the whole covey is assembled again the cooing and cackling commences. They’re social birds with big families.  They peck and gobble up seeds at a frantic pace…a pace to make a chicken dizzy.

Cooing a mellow, nasal sound while feeding provides reassurance to the whole group. It’s a soft, warm, pleasant sound.  Imagine the sound of a squeeze-toy’s squeaker muffled in a pillow. It’s repeated constantly while they forage.

Squabbles over food aren’t serious, but there is a pecking order that must be learned for peace and harmony.  Constantly bobbing…down for seeds…up for danger, the group watches for airborne predators. The male stands guard, visible on a branch, while the female keeps a lower profile.  If the alarm goes out, they explode in a flash and flying dust.

Secretive, but common, Gambel’s Quail are relatively easy to attract.  You just need seeds and enough cover to make them feel comfortable.  

Once you provide those, they show up regularly to entertain you.