Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quail Friends

We have some big overgrown arborvitae trees, that are more like gigantic messy twenty-foot-tall bushes out back (you can see them all back there in the corner in the picture on the previous post). Eventually, they will come down, and maybe be replaced with yummy lilac or something...but that is not in our immediate plan of action.
So the trees will stay, and so will the quail that call it home.
Yep, quail!
Genus: Callipepla / New World Quail
Species: Callipepla californica / California Quail (it's their state bird) or Valley Quail
...I've been researching :)

I really liked this diagram for some reason, source

Quail live in large family groups of 10-200 birds called coveys. The covey residing in our old nasty arborvitae is about 45 members strong. It's fun to watch them march over the big boulders and across the street, one after the other...they keep coming, and coming, and coming...

New World quails nest on the ground in a shallow depression 1-2 inches deep, lined with stems and grasses under a shrub or brush pile. They like their habitat to be broken and scrubby with access to cover and food...definition of our arborvitae.

"In the spring, these ground-nesting birds lay 10-15 brown, spotted eggs in a shallow grass-lined scrape. The young are born precocial. This means that they are born self-feeding; they do not rely on their parents for food. Just 10 days after hatching, these youngsters are able to fly when in danger. These ground-nesting species must develop quickly because of their vulnerability to predators."
I love the fuzzy little babies!

"As ground dwelling birds, their short and powerful legs are well adapted for terrestrial locomotion. They can fly rapidly, but only for short distances. When alarmed they prefer to run, flying only as a last resort." --source. Wikipedia has a similar description..."Although they are capable of short bursts of strong flight New Word quails prefer to walk, and will run from danger (or hide), taking off explosively only as a last resort."
When 45 of these birds take flight, it's loud!

"The California Quail’s head plume, or topknot, looks like a single feather, but it is actually a cluster of six overlapping feathers."
Hmm, I didn't know that!

I'm so happy we are able to provide such good habitat for our feathered friends. Even though eventually our overgrown arborvitae has to be cut down (there is no way to salvage it and just cut it back, it's gotta go), but I'm hoping to lure them to stay with some of their favorite seeds. Give them food, water, and cover, and they will come (or stay, hopefully). And realistically, they will be safe in their home for probably the next year or so.

Such cute little creatures!

1 comment:

tnt521 said...

Oh my! I love quail so much! I grew up in California so we used to see them quite a bit...what fun!