Wednesday, October 31, 2007

You'd think by now I would be bored with the quail, but I'm not. Night comes quite early now, and I haven't been hanging out on the front porch every evening as was my wont. The last time I saw all nine quail, in their two groups, was over a week ago. About five days ago I saw seven quail--the family and two of the others. The most I've seen since then was five, last night: the mama and papa plus one daughter from the family, and two males from the other group. I'm hoping that the other quail have just gone to roost at a different time, or that maybe some of them are roosting elsewhere, but I'm worried. I never saw the family group without everybody before. And they didn't seem to be looking for or waiting for anyone. It's been VERY HOT and dry, and I'm wondering if the stress has done some of them in.

In other news, the beautiful Cooper's hawk that visited me last year--or perhaps his brother--has showed up at my pond several times lately. (Gulp! What if he ate one or more of my quails?) In his honor I'm posting a picture of a different hawk, on a saguaro, partly because I have nothing else beautiful.

The other pictures are of a small nest (one zoomed in, the other a long shot) that was firmly attached to the top of an ocotillo till just recently. I think it is a verdin nest, but the bird book says they are five or six inches in diameter, and two observers have told me they are sure it was no more than three or four. It was football-shaped, which rules out a hummingbird nest, and also it was very prominent, which is typical of verdins but not hummers. I don't think any other birds around here are that small. In any case, it finally fell off, but before I could measure it someone ran over it.

Finally, the other day I put out some old, hard bread for the birds. It was so stale and so hard that even a pyrrhuloxia couldn't make a dent in it. This morning a ground squirrel grabbed it up and ran off with the whole piece of bread. I'm sure he'll be very disappointed when he gets back to his nest and breaks his teeth.