"Quail Talk"

Gambel's Quail

        gambel's quailWhen the days get too hot, try an evening drive just as the sun is thinking about leaving the sky. We love to take late afternoon drives and this day we took a drive to Kayenta, Ivins Reservoir, and the BLM Trailhead west of Santa Clara. It was no ordinary drive, it was a spectacular bird viewing show. Everywhere we traveled that evening, we saw families of Quail. There were tiny quail, fresh from the eggs that looked much like puffy dust balls with legs, and there were older hatchlings that looked like miniature adults. We saw parent Quail teaching their babies how to forage in the harsh desert country, and we saw lots of designated adult ‘baby tenders’ leading 20 or 30 babies across paved and dirt roads. We thought the Quail should use crossing guards and speed signs like the Elementary schools have, because so many chicks were scooting across the roads. Quail are constantly talking to each other as they move and feed. This ‘Quail Talk’ keeps the flocks together.

        Quail flocks always seem to have one or more birds perched on a rock or bush as a lookout, ready to give an alarm call if a threat approaches. These birds easily adapt to feeders, and many of the people in our area, who love Gamble’s Quail, feed them cracked corn. Quail seem to be a favorite of most everyone in southern Utah. In many local homes you’ll find Quail decorations both inside and out.

        Take an early morning (crack of dawn) or a late afternoon trip to the less populated fringes of our area for a glimpse of the Gambel’s Quail families. See if you don’t think the top-notch (plume) resembles a comma on your computer keyboard. Listen for their call Whyy--ka-ka-ka-ka-Whyy. You may think this Quail Talk sounds like something else. Let me know if you do.

        Brenda Rusnell is the artist of the Gambel’s Quail. This may be the very Quail that came to her house this spring. If you have questions about birds, Red Cliffs Audubon monthly meetings and field trips, or upcoming events, call Marilyn Davis at 435 673-0996, or go to .


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