I've been besieged with backyard cuteness recently; several coveys of California quail have discovered my extensive platform feeding station on the corner and stairs of my deck, complete with white proso millet and cracked corn, two of their favorite foods. The excitement starts with a flurry of chipping from the parents as they lead their brood into the yard - I can hear their calls from almost anywhere in the house, particularly with the windows open on these fine late summer days.
When they reach the feeders, the frantic feeding begins. At first the youngsters were just idly pecking about, but they've quickly learned from their parents where the food is best (on the big tray feeder) and how to get it most efficiently (quick scratches and pecks). Now, during any visit, I may have a dozen or more young quail and three or four adult birds enjoying the feast, jostling for the best positions, and taking advantage of what seed may fall through the deck into the safe sheltered space below. Given the relative sizes of the young birds, and the fact that some of the adults are snippier with some chicks more than others, it's clear that more than one covey is joining in.
I can't get enough of enjoying them, really. Quail are some of my favorite birds, with their round physiques, jaunty crests, and straight-line, fast running. How can you not be enchanted when birds such as this come high-stepping across your grass?