Congratulations are in order! Tim and I noticed a blur of movement just the other side of our backyard fence over the weekend. Mr. and Mrs. Quail (Gambel’s) were introducing their nine tiny new arrivals to the neighborhood market of seeds and sprouts.
Like their fellow inhabitant, Henri Hummer, the babies move so fast it’s almost impossible to see what they look like. At first all I could see was a blur of grey. With a lot of patience, I’ve been able to define shape, size and color. They seem to be so young that they look like tiny, furry dust balls with long necks and big feet. Size ranges from less than one inch when bunched in a frozen ball, to almost two inches long when running with necks streched out.
Mom and Dad have their hands full and try to keep their offspring corralled between the two of them. Immitating their parents, however, keep the little fur balls skittering after the larger birds like nine tiny echos. The babies run in the same posture as their parents; as a friend of mine once described each baby, “no bigger than a thumb,” running at the same angle with neck stretched and head tilted forward. Hilarious and adorable! Here are a few fast sketches (very fast!)