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The fall rains began yesterday.  I stand astride the seasons, looking back at summer…

To the days when summer heat drives our quail back into the yard now that their chicks are finally larger than bumblebees.  They eat bugs and drink from my flowerpot liners.  They take dust baths in the flowerbeds, scratch in the garden and cool in the shade.  They have found a corner of the lawn where the moss is thicker than I would like and the chicks rest there every afternoon. I convince myself that the moss is for their “naptime”.

ImageThe older birds are used to us and the chicks are beginning to tame down now. Or maybe I don’t look so threatening behind my camera, but now they walk slowly away instead of running when I approach.

I say “our quail”, because we feed them black oiled sunflower seeds all winter and keep the ice off their water.  They hang around.  In fact they head for us, expecting seeds every time we step out the door. There is usually a flock of thirty or so by the time we stop feeding in late spring.

I miss the covey when they pair up and leave the yard to nest in the spring. They disperse and lay eggs in the cover on the hillsides.  And I worry.  Too much rain and the chicks won’t make it.  Too many hawks, too many foxes, skunks and raccoons and they won’t make it.  Problem is, I love that we have all of these animals and more in our life, but I want those tiny birds to make it.

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The rains began yesterday and the temperature is cooling.  The quail are gathering in flocks again.  As the drizzle turns into a steady pour, the guard quail gets a bit of rest. His flock has scattered into the safety of the hedge.  It marks another year.

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