I have an obsession with one of our neighbors: the Scaled Quail. We have a little covey, Quail for family, that frequents our yard. New Mexico State University says the following about these charming feathered friends:
Scaled quail are swift afoot and often prefer to run rather than hide or fly. They tend to prefer areas that are open at ground level where they can use their running abilities. When flushed, they often fly a short distance, glide to the ground, and continue to run for some distance before they hide in whatever cover is available. Their running makes them difficult to hunt, for once a covey is located, they often disappear into the landscape, leaving a frustrated hunter.
I would be that frustrated hunter. They forage in an area we have cleared for next year’s vegetable garden. Every morning and afternoon I quietly sneak out to the garden to observe our little Quail family. Invariably, I get a 5 second glimpse before they are off to the sage where they are impossible to spot. I hunt with a camera, but a terrible hunter I am, so no photos of my own to share. I’ll share a few that I found online.
It is quite appropriate that Quail have their own word for family, for they are a tight knit group. Ma and Pa Quail are monogamous and raise their family of 10-15 chicks together. And together they are. The whole covey moves as one, usually one parent in front of their babes and the other taking up the rear. It is quite a site to see these critters scurrying, foraging, and sometimes flying about together. But again, you’ll have to take my word for it, ‘cuz I just can’t produce any proof.
I can show you what I spend most of my time looking at: a ground-level view of the sage brush, sitting still waiting and quietly scurrying in hopes of a successful sneak. Somewhere in there is the family I have grown so fond of.