Quail are flocking birds, except for when the ones that will be breeding pair up. Then there are a lot of deuces walking around together. Last spring I was noticing a pair that were hanging quite close to the yard even when we were at the “Birding Table-North Yard”. I didn’t think too much about that since we make this a very friendly place.
One morning I looked out the kitchen window and noticed a crow sitting on the fence at the north edge of our yard, with the quail acting very agitated close to the fence. Whoa, with that behavior going on, I’m thinking nest site! I am in full swing with the NestWatch program with Cornel Lab of Ornithology and would love to have a quail’s nest to monitor ( I had 8 nesting attempts from 6 different species in 2013, the quail being one of them). So I went out and checked the only thing possible to contain a quail’s nest in that immediate area, the Iris.
A few years previously we had some California towhees nest in it. I looked in it very well only to find nothing. I was a little disappointed. Well, the next morning I looked out to find the same scenario happening with the quail and crow. Something’s going on out there I missed! So back out I went to the iris.
This time I looked around the iris, not just in it. Lo and behold, there it was! Over the next couple of days the eggs dwindled to five and then none. I had already figured out that the crow had been raiding the nest previous to my finding it. During that time the parents tried their best.
The day I found it empty I also noticed some quail feathers a few feet away from the nest. I do not think a crow would attack a quail and kill it, it would only scare it away to get the eggs. At the time there was a feral cat in the vicinity and I wondered about him being the culprit. I’ll never know for sure.
All I know for sure is a mother quail gave her life for her eggs. There was lots of her feathers around, much more than in the picture. It’s sure not easy out there in Nature!
Yours in Nature,