The state bird of California is the California Quail which is a rather chubby ground bird with a distinctive bobbly-plume and an equally distinctive call.
We have large herds of them and their numbers have only increased as we’ve restored more and more native grasses. It doesn’t hurt that there are several feeding stations scattered about the houseyard along with the almost half-a-dozen in the north garden. It turns out quail are basically avian farmhands. As they peck and scratch at the ground beneath the stations in search of morsels the songbirds have let fall, they also leave droppings of their guano which they mix in with all that scratching. The result is super fertilized patches.
I just recently learned this bit of info and now we’re plotting for how to make our currently semi-permanent feeding stations more “portable”. Most of the ones tall shepherd’s hooks currently in use are made by Erva. They are super sturdy and have the added benefit of being somewhat customizable thanks to the sproingy extra arms that can be added. The only down side is they have to be pounded into the ground and thus removing them takes a great deal of effort. We’re currently pondering how to modularize things a bit. This is like a two day old idea….so it will be a while before we do it.
Anyway, the quail have been a great source of joy here. From their nightly rituals, to their photogenic presence in the garden areas and not to mention the yearly arrival of newly hatched chicks….I have taken hundreds of photos of them over the years and here are a handful. You can see more over images of them and the many other wild residents over at stega.org.