They have become resident squatters in our back yard, prolifically multiplying as the years go by. Known as California Quail, but without migratory habits they have adapted to a 'snowbird' lifestyle in our northern winter and then stay on through the hot, dry summer. Entertaining they are, as these highly sociable birds go about their daily routines.
Keeping banker's hours they scurry around on blurred legs, off for the day to who knows where? It's quite comical as they follow the leader through the garden, stopping momentarily to forage on seeds, leaves, insects and to our dismay, on the fresh green sprouts in the vegetable plot.
Papa quail with his topknot of six overlapping feathers stands guard over his young family and alerts them to my approaching zoom lens with a warning 'pip' or more urgently a high pitched 'chi-cah-go' call.
Mama with her brood of chicks explore a little out of their comfort zone near the house.
Their communal lifestyle becomes quite intimate as they gaze intently at each other in the daily dust bath. Right now it is fun for us to watch this, but not when the seed rows are planted in the garden. They burrow down with their bellies in the soft soil and then wriggle about, flapping their wings and ruffling their feathers, dust and dirt spewing out of the hole.
Enjoying a double jacuzzi bath.
Oh my, how did I get up here?
Just a little too close to that lady with the camera.
Well, imagine that, a looking glass to check out my freshly dusted feathers!
And with that the day is coming to a close as the sun sets and the covey of quail scurry to roost in the neighbouring spruce trees. The trees rustle with cluck and chup calls for quite a while as the clan of 70+ settle in for the night. After the routine,"Goodnight John boy, goodnight Elizabeth," silence falls on the retiring garden flock.