california quails

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Centenario Roadster. by Alex Penfold

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Dusk on the hillside by captured views
Via Flickr:
young female California Quail stretching her wings thanks always for stopping by to visit and share….risa

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male California Quail by Greatblue1
Via Flickr:
southern Okanagan

I raised a bunch of quail last summer

Sooooo…. Some of you may have seen my post about finding day old sparrows in the back yard.

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….?

Oh.

Oh no.

Oh no.

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 of.

Um?!

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 them….

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 them free.

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.