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California Quail

Dear Quail,

I’m so happy to know that you’re alive! I wondered where you were and worried that the cats or crows found your nest! Now I know where you’ve been for the last week – tending to your chicks!

Every evening you, dear cock and hen, waited in the road for Stellar’s Jay to arrive, signaling safety.  Your patience limitless, your plan perfect!  With cock as sentinel, atop a fern tree stump, sweet hen gathered alder cone seed and my offerings.  Hen, you’re so industrious!  Cock, so loyal and skilled!

Last spring, I saw you here for the first time – you came into my new blueberry patch and hen took a dust bath while cock, in finest plumage, seemed to face me, unafraid.  Hen is fortunate to have such a courageous mate.

Cock standing guard for his hen, while she bathes.

You’re so patient, and when she finished, you moved into the darkness of the trees and bramble.

Quail pair walking into cover of trees and brush

I didn’t see you again last year, but this year, nearly every dayl!  Weeks of watching you passed before I saw you fly into the closest trees when threatened. Why do you wait so long to escape a threat?

When I didn’t see you for a week, I hoped it was because you were busy.  And yesterday, Cock and eight Chicks walked the edge of the roadway together!  Father, taking little ones out for a first walk to see a little bit of the world outside of your secret nest.  You all walked, and I wondered if the tiny, brown, round, fuzzy chicks can fly…  Where were the cats?

One of your chicks, more curious than others, stayed behind so often, that you gathered her up and brought her into line.  That was enough adventure for one day.  I hope to see all nine of you again this evening. Where is Hen? Are there more chicks nearly ready to enter the world?

I want to ask you, though, if it was your family who was being threatened by crows and Stellar’s Jays two days ago?  While gardening, I heard a commotion, with a murder of crows squawking and circling over the blackberry brambles, Pacific willow, Nutka rose and Fir trees beside the road.  A pair of jays were jeering loudly, signaling danger.

Once I arrived at that spot, the crows finally retreated, as I am a threat to them.  The jays stayed, continued to jeer, but less so, and flew closer to me than they ever had.  For a moment, it was quiet, and I heard a small “peep.”  Was that your chick?  Hen, were you speaking to me?  All was quiet again, the murder of crows gone, and so I would be, peace restored.

Dear quail, thank you for showing me your patience, courage and dedication.  Your exemplary commitment to your family and each other commendable.  I hope to see you again soon.

Sincerely,

Darylann

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