Quail tales

August 29, 2009

One of the fun things about living in Arizona is watching the quail families. I feed the birds in my back yard, and it is a popular hangout for quail. I love it when a quail couple starts bringing their newly hatched little ones to the patio. Quail families are constantly on the move, and spend little time in any one place, so they arrive, feed for just a few minutes, and then are on their way. They are such fun to watch, with the little ping-pong ball sized bits of fluff scurrying after their parents. The chicks do not move in straight lines but swarm around and around one another, careening across the yard like drunken walnuts as the parents move them on to their next destination. They are especially fun to watch at the water dish, where they all hop up on the rim, neatly lined up, dipping and bobbing as they drink. Often they fall in, and flap around splashing their siblings until they flop themselves back out. Most years I have quite a few families that make my yard a regular stop on their daily routine; I watch the chicks grow through the summer until the families eventually split up and the newly adult ones go on their own way.

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Baby squirrel parade

August 26, 2009

This is the time of year the tiny baby squirrels come out of their nests and start exploring their new world, and I really love watching them. I have a balcony that hangs out over a deep wash, and in the sides of the wash are a large number of holes that the squirrels use for their nests, so I have a front row view. When the little ones come out, they first stay close to the nest, checking out all the brand new things that the world has to offer. They cautiously move out in small circles, sniffing every leaf, rock and twig that they find. Then they start scampering out a little farther, investigating every inch. By the time they have been out of the nest for a few days, they reach the house, which is a whole new adventure for them. Squirrels can climb stucco like it is tree bark, so they are all over the place. Quite often I will be standing at the kitchen window and suddenly a little head will pop up and peek in. They scrabble away at the windows, not understanding what glass is and why they can’t get through it. They sample plants in the yard, and discover the delights of bird seed on the patio. The water dish becomes a part of their daily routine. Then after a few weeks they are gone, off to settle new territories.