Wood You Be Mine?….Or not…

It IS that time of year….a frantic buzz of excitement- the chirps , squawks and squeaks- the birds and the bees are stirring!  Spring mating time is noisy! One of the more raucous merry makers, are the quail. Their distinct “cacaaawww…cacaaaaaaawwwww!” is heard frequently. They have a funny little ritual of climbing trees to call out their potential tweet-hearts! Let’s say, they get high on love 😉

Late afternoon is when they particularly like to ‘get high’. It was at that time, last week, when we witnessed  a would be wooer going wacky!

Todd had installed an ironwood quail carving on the branch of one of our mesquite trees a while ago. I never noticed that it had ever drawn any attention from the local bird population. That is, until a lovelorn quail discovered it and was apparently enraptured.

He climbed to the limb above, that had been conveniently cut into the perfect perch. There, he would try to get his wooden maiden to notice him….When she ‘wooden’t’, he jumped down and climbed back up again….and again….and again…putting his male to the quail…to no avail.

The poor guy was so distraught that Todd had to take down the tree trapped temptress.  I had to set this sad love story to little music…..

And with that, my friends, we raise our glasses to this lonely quail’s attempt at romance- certainly a great ‘CaCaaaaaws’!

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Great Story No Pictures! Arrrggghhhh!

So, I was on the porch this afternoon, waiting to see if the monsoon clouds were going to unleash something…

Hold on a minute….Now… I need to back up a day….Yesterday afternoon, about the same time, I was sitting in the house. Just out of the corner of my eye, I happened to see a quail bobbing her head up and down on the porch. We don’t get quail on the porch, unless it’s a Whoootooo….If you’re not familiar with the Whootoos, see blog post: A Quail Tale: We rescued and raised a couple of quail last summer and released them into the wild. They continued to come up and visit us on the porch for a few months before they were totally immersed in their new ‘wild’ life.  So…when I saw the quail on the porch, I immediately thought Whoootoooo!!! I went to the sliding glass door, and low and behold, there SHE was- With her brand new family! Hubby and 6 tiny baby fluff balls! Our grandquailage!

So the rest of the afternoon, and all day today, we were watching for them.

Back to this afternoon:

So, I was on the porch this afternoon, waiting to see it the monsoon clouds were going to unleash something, and I spotted them! Whootoo and her little family scurrying across the backyard. But, they abruptly turned back, scurrying the other way then back and forth, back and forth. Stange…I was curious, so I tiptoed out to investigate.

What I found, in the wash, was one of the babies on it’s back, flailing about, unable to recover it’s upright position. It looked like, perhaps, a thrasher, or dirt monkey had tried to nab it and swept it off his feet. As I watched  a moment longer, the family ran off, leaving the little fellow flailing about! (like mother, like daughter, I guess!) Of course, instinct took over and I snatched the little fuzz ball up and ran back to the porch, grandquail in hand!

Donna, my mother-in-law, was readily available to grab a towel, eye dropper full of water and a Miller Lite beer box. I placed the baby in the box (still in hand), under the towel, and got him to take some water. After my heart rate calmed down a little, I sat with the baby in hand, to get his heart rate down. We bonded a little, but I was pretty sure that he wouldn’t  survive by himself. Unlike his mother, when we rescued her, she had 4 siblings with her. Plus, she was plucked out of the wild, the day she was born. This little guy, was all alone, and had enjoyed/endured his wild life for at least one or two days.

We got the little quail settled in a little cage, with food, water and heating pad… But he was frantic! I felt terrible…I thought we bonded!! As I sat there worrying about his fate, I happened to see his family making their way towards the water dish in the backyard.

I quickly plucked the little guy out of the cage and slowly made my way towards the family….”whoootoooo! whooootoooo!” I called out to his mother (that was our call). The family waited under the protection of a clump of cactus. I set their baby down and shooed him in the right direction.

It was an amazing reunion! …Where was the camera!!

But here is last year’s photo….Mother Quail -the ‘Whootoos’ we rescued almost exactly 1 year ago on July 4th!  I do believe our little grandquail looks just like his mom!

Working for This Weekend…

The big Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Time to relax and enjoy….for some! For the rest of us, life goes on as usual. Just trying to survive and thrive!

One of the big events witnessed this week was the ‘bunny birthing’. The rabbit laying down is actually squatting over a burrow she dug out only minutes before. It took a few moments for us to realize that she was actually giving birth.  Her boyfriend in attendance, as well as a local quail family. We saw her digging furiously before she went into baby mode. I don’t know if you could call it labor…it only took about 5 minutes max. We knew it was over when she bent down and started licking, licking, licking, then was chased off the nest by about 5 other males ready to make more babies!

Then there’s all the little baby dirt monkey’s learning the ‘ropes’ of gropes….

Precariously perched to pluck his meager mesquite salad from the tree!

Hard worker award of the week may have to go to the parents of the quail ‘mega’ bunch. They have herded and protected this massive bunch of babies (We’ve counted over 25!) for over a week. Kind of funny though, the babies seem to be in charge, dragging the poor parents all over the yard.

Then there’s Mr. Don Iguana….well, he’s not an iguana, but at least, almost as big!  We watched him getting all puffed up and chase the local lizard ladies. Whew…Watching all the futile reptile seduction was …well….funny!

The  many cactus wrens  spend hours picking and pecking for any grub they can find, anywhere they can find it! They wrender themselves useful, by spending hours on the porch eating all of the bugs!

Maybe the one working hardest for the weekend?….

Baily earns his keep, lapping up all the attention he can get!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend! And thanks to those who have given their lives in defense of the freedoms and blessings we hold so dear!

Quailien Nation….Babies galore!

OMG! We have the largest brood of baby quail chicks, livin’ large and legal, in Todd’s Backyard! Todd counted 25 babies in one family! The amazing thing is that they have  survived for an entire week…in tact!

We’ve only been able to capture 1 picture, and unfortunately, you can’t see the whole ‘chick’n kaboodle’! There are more behind the pot and even more following mom at the end. Hopefully we will be able to get more pics today and I can post an update later!

All Hail the King Quail

Last Sunday we got to witness the spectacular tournament of the local male quail competing for the rights of ‘royalty’. There were about 2o gathered at the base of a mesquite tree. Each would take turns trying to knock off  the quail perched on the highest limb.

Each male quail would take turns. As one got pushed out of the tree, another would  fly up to take his place.

On the ground, the defeated were consoled  by their disappointed mates…

A perfectly princely pose!

And finally the celebratory KA-KAAAAW!…KA- KAAAAW!

All Hail the King Quail

KA- QURADULATIONS!

Just Hatched and Ready to Go!

As I returned to my desert home, after a long week in Michigan, I was thrilled to learn that the baby quail have started to hatch! Soon Todd’s Backyard will be a  bustling blur of little balls of fuzz, darting from the protective underbellies of cactus and shrubs. Unfortunately, they tend to go from families as big as 12, to about 3, in a very short time, as they make delicious bite sized snacks for all the local predators.

Todd captured pics  of this little family soon after the babies just hatched…

They need to warm up a bit in the sun, before their first trek though the desert…When they have to scurry after their mom as fast as their little legs can carry them. But the sun wasn’t getting them warmed up enough…

So the entire group tries to crawl under mom…

And they succeed!….Except for one cold little baby bottom!

It’s reassuring, knowing that they have a little loving support and protection as they start their new lives!

Here’s to a fresh start and and newly hatched endeavors!

A Quail Tale

We rescued 5 abandoned baby quail on July 4th, 2009….the day they were born. Quail aren’t that smart…at least the parents of these babies. They built a nest in a planter where the babies could not get out after they hatched. They do this every year. This year, they got 5 out and left 5 in the nest.

That’s where we stepped in.

We called them the Whootoos-

Their call: ” Woooo Tooooo! Woooo Tooo!”. They quickly adapted to their penned life and started to thrive. Our dogs, Lulu and Baily claimed them as their own. The only way the baby birds would settle down is if Lulu or Baily were in attendance.  Unfortunately, 3 did not make it. Only 2 survived.

We released them in September. This was the first thing that they did…plunked down in the grass and lounged!

They spent many happy hours on the porch with us.

At the end of each day, when the sun started setting, the whootoos would make their way back to the fenced area where we released them.

This is where they roost for the night.

Although, sometimes they would take a little nap on the porch!

As the weather started to cool, the whootoos spent more and more time out with the wild quail in the yard. Eventually, one of them (we had dubbed Hook)  joined a covey and she did not come back to the porch. The other, we called Hootch, still came back to the porch now and then to do a little socializing.

This was the day Hootch came to say farewell.

She sat with us for about an hour, said her goodbyes, and left for the wild. We see Hook and Hootch everyday. They still roost where we released them.  They  both found groups and hopefully mates. We will anxiously wait to see if they have their own babies and possibly bring them by for a visit!

We will also see if there is another batch of babies to rescue from the planter this summer!