Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cute Quail

Besides bunnies, I really enjoy the Gambels quail we have in the desert. I love their rounded forms, cute little topknots on their heads and--preferring to run rather than fly--feet that move unbelievably fast when they're on the move. And apparently, quail don't need to bob their heads back and forth as most other birds do when they walk or run.

Quail have some habits that remind me of chickens. Males will charge and jump at each other with wings open, although fighting is relatively rare. When they're looking for seeds or other goodies to eat, they'll scratch the ground --just like chickens. (They scratch three times with one leg, then once with the other).

I noticed if a coyote comes through, the quail will follow along behind at a safe distance, sort of chirping and "wimpering" as they go--in other words, not being particularly inconspicuous. A book I have about quail mentions this peculiar behavior, too, and no one knows why they do this. (They sure don't follow ME around like that!)

As with bunnies, I like to include quail in paintings, although admittedly painting a quail is more involved than painting a bunny. Sometimes it depends on how much energy I have left by the time I get to the point of inserting a desert critter into the desert.

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