Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Puff balls have arrived

Puff balls. You have to look quick, or you will miss them. I just saw my first batch for the year. What are puff balls? They are the baby quail. They begin life by hatching and quickly drying off. At that time the term "puff ball" describes them perfectly. When just born they are about the size of a dime on two small little toothpicks for legs. They are buff color and blend in with the native grass quite well.

A quail family begins with over 20 of these puffs. The reason for so many becomes abundantly clear and the 20 quickly pare down to a dozen. Accidents are often along with predation from the hawks, neighborhood cats or snakes.

The puff balls quickly grow and grow real feathers to become young quail. If a pair of adults are lucky, they will raise 4 young to adulthood.

A pair of quail will mate for life, and both will take charge for the safety of their brood. Knowing this, it is sad to see a single adult continuing to care for the young. You know the other adult met their fate.

Last year I posted a blog about a male quail who only had one leg. I have seen him this spring. It would be difficult, if not impossible for him to mate, so he is doomed to bachelorhood. When I saw him, he was in the company of another male and a female. It is heartening to see his survival.