Seeing as I haven't been in the new house for many months and the yard is not as bird-friendly as it could be as yet, I'm thoroughly enjoying the "easy" birds that visit. Some of the most treasured are the California quail; large coveys live in the neighborhood and may visit my platform feeding area several times a day.
In the past few weeks I've delighted in watching the chicks mature; from fluffy balls of down, now they're getting closer to their adult size and their markings are starting to be apparent. They know much better how to feed now and happily kick up seed and corn just like the adults, and they're quick to flee from any perceived danger. They still stick closely together as a brood, and it won't be until next spring that they'll seek out mates of their own. I'm taking great care to keep the feeders full so they will adopt my yard and deck as a reliable food source, and hopefully I'll have even more broods to enjoy next year. Of course, with as many as 15 or so quail crowding the feeders at once, I'd best stock up on cracked corn, black oil sunflower seed, and white proso millet to sate all their appetites!
The visits from the quail have made me rethink part of my landscaping plans, and I'm glad I haven't blundered too quickly into making changes. Many times, the brood has taken shelter under the deck itself - most notably one time when the neighborhood hawk was hunting in the yard. I had planned to block off the underside of the deck and make it inaccessible, but I've seen firsthand how even that type of artificial shelter can be beneficial for birds. I may still block it off to keep cats or other animals from taking up residence, but I'll be sure the birds always have that safe spot for a fast retreat. And when I need a retreat from the stresses of life, all I have to do is remember the joy my quail bring. May your birds bring you the same.