I never really saw so many quail before moving to the desert. They’re all over roaming the sagebrush-filled chaparrals. I can watch them from my office window running in groups between tumbleweeds, cactus, and other desert plants. Their feet scurry through the red dirt and around fallen twigs and other debris from plants that didn’t make it through some previous winter.
How these little “desert chickens” survive is beyond my comprehension. They’re subject to harsh conditions winter and summer, not to mention predators like the birds of prey and coyotes that thrive in abundance here.
We feed the quail along with all the other critters that venture by. They know we won’t hurt them, although the quail are more cautious. The chipmunks have become so acquainted with us that we can walk right up to them. They’re no longer afraid and don’t rush off to their little holes, which lead to underground burrows all over our yard.
Male and female quail
Male quail standing guard
Quail with chicks
At night, I hear the calls out in the desert as they gather their families before sunset. The mournful and persistent sounds drift through the evening air. Sometimes the adult quail perch on the wall in back and look towards the desert calling their loved ones. This moaning wail goes on and on sometimes and we know if someone is lost. It’s almost a frantic cry of desperation as the sun sinks behind the mountains and darkness creeps in over the bluffs.
Each day the families come to eat and drink and we see the little ones numbers dwindle as the days drift on toward summer. This is probably why there can be as many as two dozen chicks in one group. The survival of the species counts on that many eggs because usually less than half of the chicks will make it to adulthood.