I was thinking earlier today that I haven't rambled on about birds at all lately. Well the other day at school I passed a little family of California Quails. Each year the eggs hatch (around 15 of them!) around the beginning of summer. So the chicks that I saw were only just starting to develop that telltale plume of feathers on their heads. There were only maybe 4 of the chicks, which just goes to show how much predation affects this species. Since their nest is on the ground and they are somewhat of a flightless species (except for short bursts and glides), it opens them up to a wide variety of threats without sufficient shrubbery for protection.
This is a shot of one from earlier this year; in breeding season the males perch on a high branch or manmade structure to try to impress the gals with their call. It sounds like chi-ca-go! chi-ca-go!!
Handsome, isn't he? Here is a another one of him at the feeder. It was quite humorous to watch it scramble up there, meanwhile the female was standing close by waiting for him to finish a meal and to resume "protecting the family".
Can't wait til I have a camera with nice zoom capabilities. Anyways, once the chicks have matured, a few different families get together and spend the fall and winter in traveling groups called "coveys".
Oh and here is the obligatory "aww" photo to finish up with!
Photo: Utah Birds