Baby Quail Take Dust Bath

September 5, 2009

This morning we woke up to California Quail calls just outside our bedroom window. We started out watching several of the birds on the short wall but then we realized the real action was going on between the wall and the window. A whole family with teenagers were fluttering wings and scratching and flipping dirt like crazy. Five of the teenagers were in the hollow of sandy dirt by three small rocks. Dad stayed on the wall standing guard while Mom guarded the other direction. Three teenage females were scratching around the yucca while their 4 brothers and one sister did the dirt bath thing. Then two of the boys hopped onto a larger rock and pretended to be Dad and then played King of the Hill. The dad of this family has a double topknot and it looks like three boys all have double topknots, too.

Then the warning call sounded and they all scattered under the Russian Sagebrush. A squirrel ran to the dirt bath area and frantically dug further under the small rocks – like he knew he had buried his stash of stolen bird seed there somewhere! Then he frantically covered it all up again to hide his exploits and scantered away.

The birds immediately came back and started their scratching and bathing all over again. Then the squirrel came back to scare the birds away again and dug some more. This time he was letting the dirt fly everywhere as he dug frantically around the rocks again. The seed had to be there somewhere!

Then he reversed his digging one more time and took off. The birds came back and pecked and scratched – must have been that bird seed! Then after a few more wing stretches and flying dirt, Dad said it was enough and the family left to continue their morning trek across the land.

My camera was still in the car in the garage. I was afraid that if I moved across the window to go get it that it would spook them so I just watched the entertainment… Tonight my camera is ready. If they decide to go for another bath tomorrow morning, maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get some pictures! Given the look of the spot, it is a favorite one!

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