A Visit from a Covey

Scaled Quail_ChicoBasinRanch-CO_LAH_3016I have a new yard bird! Having only lived in this house since May, adding a new species to my yard list isn’t normally that big a deal. In fact, the previous entry (last week) was Eurasian Collared-dove. Big whoopee. But this new species got me so excited I went running around the house, texting all my birding friends. (Can you tell I haven’t been out birding in far too long?)

Yes, I glanced out at the feeder late one afternoon and spotted a small covey of Scaled Quail! In my yard! They were happily pecking through the shredded bark mulch looking for millet seeds that had fallen from the feeder overhead.

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The Pale Quail

gambels-quail-leucistic_colonatlmon-co_lah_4179It was like a bird-shaped ghost—we couldn’t quite believe our eyes. My friend Debbie and I were birding near Grand Junction, in Colorado National Monument—a spectacular place of sheer cliffs, rock pinnacles, and copper-colored sandstone.

We had stopped for lunch, and were alternately taking bites of our sandwiches and grabbing our binoculars. Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, Rock Wrens, and Gray Vireos abounded. I was surprised to see Gambel’s Quail running under the junipers; I thought of them as living a bit more to the south. I was told that the species had been introduced to Western Colorado as a game bird.

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