They told me that quail “like” to live in little wire cages, with a wire floor, raised off the ground. They told me that quail won’t use a nest box, and will lay their eggs randomly over the cage floor, because quail won’t hatch their own eggs, and quail make horrible mothers. They told me that quail are flighty, not friendly, and will startle and fly up and “bonk” their heads on the cage roof at the slightest provocation. They told me that quail will always be wild, and don’t like any contact with humans.
“They” being the so-called experts.
Never believe what “they” tell you.
I’ve already told you how tame my quail are. They don’t like to be grabbed, but they don’t run from me otherwise. One of them, Imhotep, likes to sit in my hand and have his neck and back feathers scratched. They love their big cage and are constantly taking long, luxurious dust baths…like normal birds do. It is a cruelty to keep birds off the dirt. They need it to keep themselves clean and healthy. They stretch out in the sun and sunbathe. Not only do they not startle, but they don’t fly because they aren’t afraid. Not once have they come anywhere close to ‘bonking’ their heads. They come over to the wire and talk to me when I approach the cage, and clearly like watching what I am doing.
And…two days ago, I noticed that one of the females had made a little nest in the corner of the nest box. Yesterday, she laid an egg in it. The angle I had to take the picture from really doesn’t show it very well.
All that day, the Ladies (and Peabody) were going in and out of the nest box to admire the egg. First the two little Italians were snuggled in on top of it, moving the egg around with their beaks and discussing it in quiet little voices. After they left, Peabody got in the nest and oh-so-gently touched it with his beak. Later, I caught the Standard sitting on it as well.
Today when I got off work, I found this:
Yes, ALL of the females have chosen to lay their egg in the nest! I still don’t know who the original nest-maker was, but I’m leaving the eggs there, in the hopes that one of the Ladies will decide to sit on them and hatch out the next generation. After seeing this, and seeing how incredibly interested they were in the nest and the first egg, I believe the reason quail are considered such ‘bad mothers’ is because they are being kept unnaturally in cramped, wire cages. Give them a little nature, and they will begin to act naturally, has always been my belief when it comes to animals.
People have asked me exactly how quail eggs compare to a chicken egg. Here you are:
And speaking of chickens, SOMEONE was a very bad girl today. Josie escaped from her Stop-Being-Broody-And-Go-Back-To-Laying-Eggs Pen, and made a bee-line for one of my cold frames. This is the result.
Poor little lettuce seedlings! At least she was being very systematic, and I caught her before she’d worked her way across the entire bed. Sigh.
The boy quail are doing great in their bachelor pad. I planted some ornamental grasses in there (which they love) and also two cabbage starts and a few beets. The beets may survive, but the boys did a pretty good job and walking all over them and flattening the leaves. I need to come up with a way of protecting them until they are grown large enough to defend themselves. The cabbage (or at least one of them) is faring much better.
I put in a few stones to make a platform so the boys could walk up and see over the wood wind-break of their cage. Cinna has decided it is his designated crowing platform. In this video, he’s a little intimidated by my camera, but still can’t resist showing off. I love how they vibrate while they crow!