But what I failed to
mention is that literally a week later (to the day) I was woken up by someone
abusing our doorbell and then my mother’s high-pitched squeals of delight- which
are usually reserved for when the neighbor give us cinnamon rolls or her best
friend comes over.
I thought to myself: what the hell is going on down there? She
just got cinnamon rolls a few weeks ago and wasn’t supposed to have another night
out with her friend until next week so then what….?
This can only be one thing.
Yup. That’s right. Day old, fluffy, peeping, California Quail. A friend from church was apparently working with a group landscaping a parking lot and pulled out a bush and discovered these little guys. The parents bolted
and refused to return and the babies made a B line for heavy traffic.
Some were hit by cars but the workers managed to round up
the other thirteen survivors and bring them to me. When they showed
up at our door we were given a simple choice: take them in, or they would be disposed
I’m your new momma now.
It has been years since I raised quail. Most of my old bird
stuff is gone but we still have the heat lamp. So we all start scrambling to
get things ready. Luckily we have a few big boxes lying around and there is a
gamebird care & feed store just down the street so we were able to replace
all our missing essentials for a few bucks and get them some proper chick feed.
I was initially kind of worried because they hatched near
the end of August- which is a pretty late hatching and the weather was getting unusually
cold. We were already getting frost. But they did quite well! We lost two really early on to a mysterious sickness
(R.I.P Dwight) but the rest have all been growing fast.
The weekend before we ended up with these guys my dad saw a
big rabbit cage for sale on his way home so he went back and bought that for
us. We sawed the legs off of it and used the wood for perching shelves and once
they hit the ten day mark when they start to fly, we started bring them
outside during the warmest part of the day when the cage was in the sun.
These guys….did not like us. Which was good since we were
raising them to be set free- but man it made it hard to bring them in when it
started getting chilly. @___@
Once they got enough feathers and meat on them to maintain
their own body heat we moved their heat lamp outside and kept them outside
24/7. It was much easier to clean up after them after that and we slowly started
introducing them to other types of food. Bird seed, strawberries, lettuce. (Meal
worms and spinach are their favorite :3)
It’s fun watching them pick up a spinach leaf almost as big
as they were and run off with it so they didn’t have to share.
Unfortunately we are not the only ones who were watching
Its just out of frame but the quail cage is about a yard away from that chair. Had a few cats trying to get into their cage at night too
but everyone managed to avoid danger and the hawk didn’t come back once it new we knew.
Fast-forward a month or so and everyone is getting pretty
big and they are starting to get the first hints of their coloring in. They are
making adult quail calls now! So on a warm Sunday we decided it was time to set
We have a back yard full of trees and dense foliage low to
the ground and there are often wild quail nearby so we just open up their cage
and let them decide what they would like to do. Some of them don’t even let
their butts touch the ground as they hightail it out of the neighborhood. They
want nothing to do with us. (Good luck guys. I know you are literally the
chicken nuggets of the animal kingdom but try not to get eaten.)
A few others poke around for a day before leaving as well.
The original cold snap faded for a while but it’s starting to get chilly again
so they want to start moving off to make bigger groups before winter
hits. We hear them talking to each other throughout the neighborhood for a few
days before moving off.
And then…um… there were a few who were just like “Nah guys its
cool. We think we will room with you.” They even followed my brother around which
was really weird since he rarely interacted with them and none of our previous
quail had ever imprinted on anyone.
Then another really cold night hit and you know what the
little poofs did? You know what they did!?
They ran up to the door when it got dark and
started tapping on the glass until we let them in!
They hadn’t been inside a house since they were babies! And
even then they were always in a box. Yet they decided that hey, the humans are
doing it so let’s go chill with them….
They tried to roost under our table.
So we kind of scratched our heads and managed to shoo them
into the old sparrow cage for the night. And after that they decided that they
would just come inside every night, hop in their cage and in the morning we
open it up and they run back outside for the day.
(if the morning is particularly chilly they insist that we
leave the door open for them but despite all the sass they throw at us, we won’t do that.) oh yeah, also after we cover up their cage for the night, if we
talk too loud they all start sassing us until we shut up. >_>
We have gotten to see their full adult coloring come in which
has been great. They are so pretty! We have named these four oddballs Kazuma, Yukine,
Elias & Ruth… because we were reading Magnus Bride and watching Noragami
when we got them. >_>
Despite being fairly chill around people, they still don’t
like you getting too close them and won’t let you pick them up. They are doing
an amazing job avoiding the cats and birds of prey. We kept waiting for them to
leave but they won’t, so we leave the garage open a little and they hide in
there when it snows.
We still have all four of them hanging out with us as of the new year. Their reaction to snow was hilarious.