Tag Archives: quail coop

Towhees, Quail, and Lost Chickens, Oh My

I meant to do a regular update on the Rufus-Sided Towee eggs that were laid in my clematis, but as usual, time got away from me. So here is the story of the eggs, all at once.

So ugly they are ADORABLE. Resisted the urge to cuddle them, but I do occasionally give them a pet on their little fluffy mohawks. At a few days old, their eyes are closed, and they can’t distinguish me from their parents. Anytime I approach the nest, they start begging for dinner.

A few days older still, and their eyes open. Now they know I’m not their mama, and they tend to give me the closed mouth stare of disgust.

Occasionally, when they’re really, really hungry, they still try to talk me into a little treat on the side. (There are still three in the nest, though – one is just hiding in this shot.)

And a surprisingly short time later, they were ready to leave the nest. I happened to go out and visit just in time to see it happen.

They still can’t properly fly – which freaked me out big time when I saw them fluttering and flapping around at the base of the clematis. I actually tried to put them back in the nest, thinking they’d jumped out prematurely. But they weren’t having any of that! After googling it, I discovered that several varieties of birds (Towhees among them) actually do leave the nest before they can fly. It certainly didn’t slow them down any. Just a few minutes after I took this last picture, all three were gone with their parents, over the back fence and into the field behind us. I hope they survived. It must be hard, to leave the nest before you can fly!

In other news, I had a great hatch rate from my last batch of shipped coturnix quail eggs – out of 12, 8 hatched.

They are mostly grown up now, and are outside in the newest coop.  This is a terrible picture, and I still need to put on the roofing material, but here’s a shot of it.

It is divided down the middle by a removable screen, so I can either have two cages, or one big one. At the time of this picture, I had my older pair (Loki and Sweetie) in one side, and their son in the other. He was a solitary hatch, so he’s really happy now that the new quails are big enough that they can all be together in one pen with him.

Here’s a close up of his side:

And here’s the pair in theirs.

Speaking of the cages, everyone asks why I spray paint the wire black. The reason is simple: it makes the visibility SO much clearer. I painted one side, then took a pic, just so you can see the difference.

Totally worth the couple minutes it takes to paint!

Bobwhite quail video (with surprise guest appearance by Goldie!)

I had a chicken go missing the other day. It was right before I had to leave for work, so I was running around the entire property (inside and outside of the chicken yard) calling her and offering treats. Nothing. Not so much as a single lost feather. I asked my favorite hen, Ellie, where Booty was, and Ellie marched into the coop and stood there, cackling.

But Booty wasn’t in the coop, was she? I checked behind all the storage bins and buckets, in case she got somehow stuck. No sign of her. I was sincerely thinking she was gone, but if a predator found her, I wanted to know, so I could take precautions for the rest of the girls. I took one last tour around the yard, and when I finished, Ellie was still standing inside the coop.

“She’s not in there, Ellie,” I said. “I looked.”

Ellie stared at me, with what can only be described as a ‘humans are soooo stupid’ kind of expression. Might I add, that while Ellie was standing in the coop, and I was running around the yard looking, the other chickens were busy eating all the treats I had thrown around trying to call Booty? It was really strange that Ellie was just standing there, and not eating the treats herself. Really, really strange.

Could Booty possibly be in here somewhere? Was there any possible place I hadn’t looked? There wasn’t…unless…yes. The crates we use as nest boxes are slightly raised off the ground, and Booty IS a little hen. Could she have crawled underneath? I lifted up one of the nest boxes, and there was Booty, caught in the process of laying a stealthy egg…or two…or six.

And obviously one of the other hens had managed to squeeze under there too.

Ellie gave me one last ‘took you long enough’ glance, then stalked out of the coop to see if any of the treats were left.

Booty, you bad, bad girl! You had me so worried~

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Bobwhite Quail Babies!

Out of Eden has new chicks! I mentioned before that I’d ordered Snowflake and White Bobwhite quail hatching eggs through the mail. That’s always iffy, because you never know how they will be treated in the mail.

This time, I was lucky. Out of the 12 eggs, 10 were viable, and developed into chicks. I only ended up with 7 chicks, because one didn’t hatch, one attempted to hatch (unsuccessfully) from the wrong end of the egg, and one died a few hours after hatch of suspected neurological problems. Seven are tremendously healthy though, and that’s a great success from shipped eggs.

Here are four of them, fresh out of the incubator.

They are the tiniest little things – even smaller than coturnix quail.

Also speedier than coturnix. Beware, if you hatch these…they WILL run at top speed out of the incubator, and freak you out just a little! But they are sweet, too. The other night, I put my hand in the brooder, and three of the white ones jumped in my hand together and went to sleep.

Two days later, the White ones aren’t yellow, but a silvery pale. And the Snowflakes are grey and brownish black. They also talk more than the coturnix: they have several sounds beside the standard alarm cry and cheep. One is a three note call like a songbird, and the others are assorted peeps and chirps. I’ve seen three of them just sitting together, having a conversation! It will be interesting to see what sounds the adults make. I’m only familiar with the male’s “bobwhite” call.

I cleaned out the big quail coop (it most recently held ducklings), turning over the ground with a spade, and putting in a few plantings of ferns and hosta. I hope the quail will enjoy hiding underneath the leaves, not just ripping them apart and eating them, like the coturnix would.

I also put in some logs and various other things for them.

The stepping stones are mainly for me. This big, walk-in coop always makes me a bit nervous, because quail are so still and camoflaged that I worry about stepping on one. The stones will make it easier to see where I’m putting my feet!

This coop is my roof garden coop; in this picture from last fall, I’ve filled it with straw for the quail to snuggle in through the winter.

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New Quail Coop

Here is the latest and FINAL quail coop.

This one is my rotating garden bed scheme.  The first year, it will be here, on top of a unused raised bed.  In the fall, after the quail have had time to dig, eat bugs, and fertilize the bed, I’ll switch the coop to another bed that has been growing vegetables.  The quail will get to eat whatever is left of the veggies, and get to work fixing up this new bed for the following year.  I think it’s quite a brilliant idea, so hopefully it works out like I think it will.  I do know that since I had to move quail around, I took the opportunity to take out a couple of barrows full of great compost from the quail coops currently in use!

So now Cinna and his two girls are in the new rotating coop, and Peabody and his wife are in the display coop.  Loki and wives are still in the large green roof coop, but after I build the new greenhouse, they’ll be moving inside there, to help with pest control, and next year, I’ll be hatching out some Serama chickens for the large green roof coop.  After that, everyone should be set for the long term!

Here are a few pics of inside the new coop:

And now, with quail:

Cinna and his girls are happy with their new home.  I had barely put them in it, before they were all having a dust bath together in the corner.

This one has two doors on top.  One over the run, and one over the nest box area on the left.  I still need to put the rubber roofing on the nest box roof.

The chickens weren’t very pleased with the process of building the coop.  First I made the raised bed, and filled it with dirt that they would have loved to dig around in themselves.  They couldn’t quite grasp the necessity of building a coop over the top!  They think I do far too much building of fences as it is!

But they did enjoy seeing the quail move in.  I’ve noticed before that they like to watch the quail.  It’s pretty cute when quail and chicken are standing looking at each other face to face through the wire!

The weather here has been so warm.  We’ve had several days with 60 degree temps, and even the night temps are usually in the high 30s or early 40s.  I’ve decided to risk getting the garden started early, because I just have a feeling that Spring is actually coming early this year, and we’re not going to go back into winter.  Nothing too crazy though!  I started some lettuce, kale, peas, and argula.

You cannot believe how lovely it is to see little bits of green growing again!  Unless, of course, you garden yourself.  🙂

The weather has been making it nice for getting things done outside.  I have a long list (as always) of Things That Need to Get Done:  greenhouse, duck coop, trellises, various gates and fences, and rain barrels.  Plus I’ll be putting in more fruit trees, but I’ll post about that later.

After a day’s work in the garden, it’s good to be able to come in and collapse on the couch!

Building Quail Coops, Fences, and Garden Beds

First off – I have exciting news!  You may remember we have been searching for a Corgi puppy…well, we found one!

Meet Dexter.

Dexter5weeks

He’s just about 5 1/2 weeks in this photo, so we have about 3 weeks to wait until he’ll be old enough to come home with us, but he’s officially ours!  The breeder said he’s her favorite from the litter, the sweetest and most affectionate, and not so bossy as his brother.  He also likes cats; in one video we saw, he made a beeline to go play (very nicely) with the cat!  It’s good that he’s already getting used to animals other than dogs.  When he gets here, we’ll have to introduce him to the two-legged cats…i.e. the chickens.  (Hey, the chickens sit on my lap, purr, chase squirrels, and would eat mice if we had any…)

Also exciting is my crop of millet.  I harvested it the other day, and it’s gorgeous.

It definitely won the contest between millet and quinoa as a seed crop.  I would have gotten a small amount of quinoa, but we’ll never know if the quail would have loved it or not.  The chickens managed to bust into the quinoa bed, knock it down, and eat it before it was ripe.  They seemed to enjoy it, at least.  😦  See – they are also as sneaky as cats!

Because the chickens clearly cannot be trusted, I spent the last two weekends fencing off a part of the east yard and adding garden beds.  I swear the chickens know what it means when I haul out t-posts and wire.  They start whining and complaining right away.  Not more fences!  Nooooo…..

In the beds to the right, are strawberry starts.  To the left, in the front, is one gooseberry.  I plan to add one more, plus an espalier of some sort against the fence.  Still undecided as to what that will be.  I’ll put more strawberries around their feet.

To the left, in the back against the chicken coop wall, is one of the vegetable beds that I will rotate the quail through.  I still have to build the coop/tractor that sits on top.  Right now, there is a moveable cold frame that I also built.

To the side of the new fenced in area, we put up a wire hog panel arch.  I’m training a thornless blackberry up it.  In behind the arch, you can see the two columnar apple trees I planted this Spring.  They are doing very well, despite the best efforts by the chickens to get into their pots and dig all the dirt out.

The Sweet Dumpling squash leaves are looking terrible this time of year, but the squashes themselves are wonderful.  I can’t wait to taste them as mature winter squash.  I ate a couple immature, as summer squash, and they were very tasty!  This variety will be grown again next summer for sure.

I’m still canning like crazy and loving it.  We bought a couple boxes of peaches, and I canned some straight-up in a light syrup.  For others, I saved the leftover syrup I used to can Black Plums in, and used that.  It has a gorgeous red color that makes the peaches look really pretty!

I met a new friend through my local Freecycle, who was also interested in keeping quail.  When Anna came over to my place to pick up her freebie, I gave her the tour and she was especially intrigued by one of my quail coops.  This one.  After Anna found some quail up on Freecycle, she came back to visit my coop again, and ended up making a similar one for herself in one day!  I asked if I could share pictures, because I really like some of the modifications she made.

She added a door to the center front, which must be handy for cleaning and catching stubborn quail, as well as cute handles on the two lift-up doors.  She also has a green roof on the middle section with sedum planted.  She says her seven little quail hens are very happy in their new coop, and I believe it!

I cannot even tell you how happy my garden has made me this year.  The wild critters seem to love it as well.  The chickens, rabbits, and quail have had so much fresh food to eat, and since I use no chemicals, the wildlife is really flourishing as well.  I know they are helping to keep all the unpleasant bugs at bay, because other than my brief issue with root maggots this year (solved by the application of beneficial nematodes) I have had almost no damage to anything.  Several birds have nested in my garden this year, and look at this little sweetie I found in my bean plants!  He didn’t budge the whole time I was harvesting beans around him.

And finally, a brief travel update: another friend was kind enough to give me a bunch of Egyptian money leftover from her trip!  So much fun – being able to hold actual money in my hands in making my trip seem so much more real.  Thanks, Arte!  This time next year I’ll be across the Atlantic Ocean!

What To Do With All Those Quail Eggs!

Yesterday I made one of my favorite recipes – Puffy Pancakes!  Instead of using the standard four chicken eggs, I used all quail eggs…exactly twenty-four of them!

Mom says she noticed a different taste; I didn’t.  They still made the pancake puff nicely!

This recipe is so good, and so easy.  Just preheat the oven to 425 (with your cast iron skillet inside.)  While it’s heating, mix together 4 chicken eggs (or 24 quail eggs), 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

After the oven is heated, melt 2 tablespoons butter in your skillet, then pour in the batter.  Immediately put into the oven, and don’t open the door again for 15 minutes.  Serve immediately with your choice of topping (we like chopped strawberries and cream!)

Speaking of cream, Mom recently discovered this local dairy (Lynden WA) that sells 100% Jersey cream.  Wow.  It is SO GOOD.  So incredibly rich and tasty.  I could eat it by simply pouring it out of the bottle into a spoon!

We finally got some more work done on the roof of the new quail coop.

The two lower roof sections still need to have waterproofing put on, but the middle section finally has its roof garden.

We are planting it with chamomile.  After this photo, three more starts were planted, so hopefully it will fill in soon and become lush and green.

The strawberries on the other quail roof garden are coming along nicely.  They have flowers now.

There are a few pansies up there, too.

While at a local nursery, I found a fuzzy kiwi vine and fell in love.

LOVE the red tendrils!

So much fuzziness!

After I discovered that my hardy kiwi male can pollinate fuzzy kiwis, I was sold.  I now have hardy AND fuzzy kiwis!  Here’s to lots and lots of fruit (and darling fuzzy vines.)

I have planted out most of my beans.  I planted a TON of beans.  Green beans, gold beans, purple beans, striped beans, red beans, runner beans, footlong beans…I have them all.  I cannot resist a pretty bean!

I especially like the colored beans, because they are so much easier to see (and pick.)  No hiding among the green leaves until they are huge and overgrown.  There particular ones are Dragon’s Tongue.

I am just so happy that winter is over and I need fear no more frosts!

Quail Love, Tomatoes, and Straw Bales

The tomatoes I started from seed outgrew the grow light.  There just wasn’t room for all of them underneath it, once I transplanted them into larger pots.  Plus, I wanted the light for Ground Cherries, so the tomatoes went into the kitchen window.  And the living room window, since there are so many of them.

This was about a week ago.  Today, I transplanted them again.  Since I didn’t actually have any pots the right size, I went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of plastic Easter pails.

If you’re thinking that they look smaller now than they did then, it’s because each time you transplant tomatoes, you snip off the lower leaves and bury the stem up to top set of leaves.  The buried portion of stem sends out roots, and makes the plant much stronger!

There are still some areas in the front yard vegetable garden that I haven’t had time to build raised beds in.  This means that the soil is still very poor, as I also haven’t had time to put in a bunch of compost.  Since I really, really want to garden those areas this year, I decided to try out Straw Bale Gardening.  I doubt I’ll continue doing it in future years, because straw is not very cheap in my part of the world, but it will be an interesting experiment.  The first step is to “condition” the straw bales, so I’ll be doing that for the next couple of weeks.

At the very least, the straw will turn to compost, and help fill those raised beds!

Today I also finished getting the former quail Bachelor Pad set up in its new location, and moved Peabody and his wives into it.  I built a new nest box for it; basically a box with a roof that raises on hinges that fits inside the quail coop.

Here’s the view looking down into the nest box.

Here’s the view with the nest box roof lowered.

I’m going to put a piece of waterproofing on top to keep the quail (and their food) dry.

Peabody and two of the girls seem to like it.  Mama quail is Not Amused.  She is very shy, and was terrified out of her wits by this move, but she seems to be settling in.  Hopefully she’ll go broody again, but who knows?  Quail are often a mystery.

The babies inside are just two weeks old, and they are nearly entirely feathered out on their bodies.  And they can fly!  It’s not uncommon for one to helicopter straight up out of the brooder when I take the cover off.  They don’t want to escape; they are just full of high spirits, and they love it when I clean their box, because they always get interesting things like dirt to dig in, or buttons to pick at.  They need things to keep them busy and happy, so they won’t develop the habit of picking on each other.

Their legs are also getting insanely long.

I don’t think I ever posted this picture of them at a few days old.  I just reached into the brooder and scooped up a handful!  This was about half of them.

Moving Peabody and his girls out into the their new coop left Loki alone in the old one.  I was going to leave him by himself at first (it’s only a short time until the chicks will be old enough to join him) but he was clearly just too lonely.  Poor guy.  So I ended up temporarily “borrowing” one of Peabody’s girls and putting her in with Loki.

He loves her.  He’s on cloud 9.  It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen; he started running in front of her, neck outstretched, on his tippy-toes.  It must be a courtship dance?  I’ve never seen either of the other two males do it, though.

She was unimpressed, and even less so when he tried to mate with her…and let’s just say…he needed some serious practice to get the technicalities down!  😉

As soon as he finished, she pecked him around the face a few times to let him know she wouldn’t be putting up with any more behavior like that!  So he went back to his tippy-toe dance again.  Then she got involved in having a dust bath, and he snuck up behind her, and deliberated: did he dare make another attempt?  Would she scorn his attempt if he did?  But oh – she was just so seductive, down there rolling in the dirt!

Success!!!

I wish I’d been able to record this for you.  It was so hysterically cute and funny – especially when he celebrated by performing an especially vigorous tippy-toe dance afterward!

I did go get the camera and record a little bit for you – although he is not showing off the perfect form he previously had in his dance.  I think he was getting a bit tired by this point!

The New Quail Coop is Finished

Well, except for the roofing.  But it’s done enough, and the quail can move in!

 

Since Loki’s future wives are not yet hatched, I moved Cinna and his girls inside so I could move Cinna’s coop to a new, more central location.  I wasn’t sure how tame Cinna and the girls actually were, since I haven’t tried to catch them since they were chicks, but they were so nice.  They stood still and just let me pick them up without any fuss at all.

They’d been working really hard at composting the dirt from their former coop into lovely, rich earth, full of bugs and earthworms, and I didn’t want to deprive them of winning the rewards of their labor, so I put them temporarily into one of my cold frames.  And then we dug out the dirt from their old coop and put it into the new one.

Nice, lovely composted dirt!  Despite having had quails living (and pooping) on it for around half a year, it didn’t smell.  I would have loved to put it into my garden, but I gave it back to them, worms and all.

I need to add some plants and little logs and things for them.  The green you see is just a few edible weeds I “planted” for them.  Which of course, they promptly dug out!

The nest box area also has their food and water.

They were quite enamored of their nest area, and spent quite a bit of time inside, arranging their hay.

And then they all took a nap.  The two little females snuggled up together, and Cinna on guard beside them.

After the nap, they left me a tip.

I hadn’t named the two females, because I couldn’t tell them apart.  They are identical in looks.  But having spent considerable time recently watching them, I’ve learned that they are quite different in personality.  I’ve named them Mary and Martha, because they remind me of those Biblical sisters.  Martha always vigorously doing what needs to be done (in this case digging for worms and uprooting plants), while Mary is contend to sit and learn.

I also gave them some alfalfa seeds I had sprouted.  That was a big hit.  I’ll definitely continue doing that on a regular basis.

I have one more quail coop to build, and then I’ll have the big coop with the green roof empty and available for my future Serama chickens.  Now that I have this awesome incubator and brooder, I honestly want to hatch ALL THE EGGS.

I wonder if I could fit an emu egg in it?  😉