|Northern Bobwhite male|
I've had the great honor this past week to be allowed to watch a nightly reunion of a large brood of quail. They have chosen, repeatedly, to mingle in my back bed less than 10 feet from the house as they settle for the night, right where I can enjoy and photograph them at my leisure through the windows. I first noticed them last Friday evening as a large group pecking around the ground, and now to find them all that I have to do is look for Papa Quail, shown here to the right, who keeps a vigil on my trellis (the pink rose is 'Zephirine Drouhin') while his teenagers are running around nearby.
As you may know, the Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) is a New World quail (Odontophoridae) which is pretty common, but secretive, in my neck of the world. I often hear the familiar call "Bob-White" in the early mornings, but I seldom see the birds. This game bird is usually monogamous and a breeding pair normally has 12-16 eggs per clutch, parents leading the young birds to food for a couple of weeks after hatching until they can fly. I have a hunch that this group (11 birds are visible in the picture to the left) came from a nest right in the clump of bushes behind them, and they are just about large enough to take off on their own. I feel very privileged to witness this stage of their life cycle so close and personal.
As a short sample of what I've been seeing, I'll attempt to post the two movies below to share with you. The first shows the same group as seen above, with their stilted random movements. The second shows the group moving out in exploration. If you can stop the movie at the very beginning of movie #2, there are 20 quail visible in the frame, not including Dad who was still sitting on the trellis above. This was a very large brood!
Or, the better quality YouTube link to the 2nd video is here
Sometimes, I feel so lucky to live on the prairie that I could just melt into a puddle of happiness.