Vigilant quail moms and pops are out and about this time of year with their broods. A Gambel's quail, like the one above, often will keep guard on the tiny ones.


Last spring a quail laid 18 eggs in a plant on my enclosed patio. After they hatched, seeing those miniscule creatures scurrying around my patio brought tears to my eyes.

I called a man in Phoenix who advised me to "make a mixture of shaved broccoli tops and hard-boiled egg yolks. Put water in shallow dishes so they don't drown." For three weeks, I watched them grow. Seeing their mom teach them to fly was heartwarming. When they left my patio, I missed them.

This spring I was on alert. When the mom and dad perused my patio I was hopeful even though many plants had frozen, including the one she used last spring. But, lo and behold, she laid her eggs in a fern. When the eggs hatched, I counted nine tiny birds running around. That night the mother and father stayed with the young. I was thrilled.

When the sun came out the next morning I saw the tiny baby birds. But no mother. All day I waited for her to return. Worried, I went to my neighbor, Sue. "They need to be warm," she said. At dusk, we filled a box with towels and put it outside.

Early the next morning I saw two of them on the patio, inert. Gently I picked them up, put them in the box and set the box on my desk. I turned on the desk lamp for heat. An hour later when I went out to the patio, I saw the rest of them, barely breathing, their little legs splayed. My heart ached. With great tenderness, I gathered them up, two at a time, and placed them in the box.

Unbelievably, after a while, they started moving. One by one, their tiny eyes opened. Unsure of what to do, I again called Sue.

"You need to get them to a place where they will be cared for. They need to learn how to eat." Sue knew of a woman who lives near Silverbell who rescues birds. We found the phone number for Mrs. Miller.

"Bring them here as quickly as possible," she instructed. Alarmed, I called Jane McCutchen, a friend of mine. "Help me, please," I cried.

Jane arrived soon after, and we had the babies there within an hour. By this time, the miracle had occurred. All nine of them were jumping around, fit as fiddles!

That is not the end of the story. About two in the afternoon, I walked into my bedroom and could not believe my eyes. Standing in the middle of the patio was another tiny bird! How had this creature survived the 60-degree-night weather and hidden from me? As I walked toward the patio, he ran away. Was I seeing things?

I was not delusional. After an exhausting afternoon, I finally caught him, put him in a box overnight, and got him to Mrs. Miller the next morning. One of her volunteers immediately gave him some water with an eye dropper. My first batch of babies was thriving, and the rescuers assured me that this little guy would soon be with his brothers and sisters.

That's what I call a quail of a day!

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