Monday, May 9, 2011

On Not Eating Certain Scenery

Last April we were cleaning up flower pots in preparation for new planting, when a mama quail, completely camoflaged, whirred out of this pot when we approached it.  We carefully inspected the pot, and sure enough ... we found a nest with 18 little speckled eggs in it.  Mama came back later, and I took this picture of her.  Yes, she is there ... at about 12 o'clock.

The next day, she temporarily left the nest, and I quickly took this picture of the eggs.

I had seen a quail couple, with the mama waddling about and looking really round, exploring our yard for a nest site a couple of days before.  We learned that quail eggs take 28 days to mature.  Sure enough, about that much time went by (with us tiptoeing around the flowerpot every time we went outside to work in the yard) when we noticed that hatching had begun.

The hatching was quickly over, and the quail parents set immediately to their task of teaching the little ones how to queue up, hide in a cluster under mama's wings, and keep close to the fence or stay under shrubs when the annoying person with a camera stepped carefully out of the house.  But I was not able to get good pictures of them because they never stood still!

For several days, the training went on, with one parent herding and fussing over the chicks, showing them how to find food and avoid predators, and the other parent standing guard atop the fence. Then they were gone.

I thought our quail excitement was over, and I had cleaned out the flower pot and planted new flowers.  One day, though, I saw a quail family in our yard, with significantly larger chicks.  Were they our quail family?  I don't know.  But all in all, it was fun and educational to watch Nature at work.

And this time, no recipe.

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