Oh, quail!

Posted on May 1, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Health, Musings, Philosophy |

  I was typing away at my computer keyboard–my most frequent activity–when I heard a loud “BANG!” on the window next to my desk. I first thought a rock (or small meteor?) had somehow managed an unlikely trajectory, but it didn’t have that sharp sound, nor did the glass break; or perhaps a child’s ball was accidentally thrown against my window.

But the immediate neighbors don’t have children. I looked, of course, and on the ground near my window lay a quail on her back, blood on her chest. Her legs twitched for a moment, and then were still.

Oh, quail! How did you come to fly into my window pane? I’d seen the ads on television for a window cleaning product, that got ones windows so clean that birds fly into them and knock themselves out (hah hah!). While the ad didn’t amuse me the first 30 times I saw it; it just seems cruel, now. Besides, my window is not squeaky clean, I have a screen on it, and curtains inside. It’s not as if it looks like empty space.

“I’m going to have to go out there and do something,” I said to myself. “Maybe she’s just stunned.” (but it was a VERY loud bang…and she is bloody…) As I continued to look, I noticed her mate. He strutted nearby, making a curious, anxious chirping sound. And then, he stopped near her body, as if assessing the damage. Was he saying “goodbye”? He gave a little shake and began to walk; then run; then fly. Would I see him again? Their children must be grown, as they were not nearby. Desert Quail mate for life, and I’d seen many pairs nurture their adorable chicks, trying to keep them safe from the many predators here.

Oh, quail! You’ve made your mate a widower. Has he gone off to mourn?

He did not return. Quail are bold birds, and he would not have let the sight of me peering out the window drive him from his mate’s side, if there were a chance she could be helped. I finally went outside. I gently nudged her with a stick. I did not touch her; we’d been warned of several unpleasant diseases from wild animals lately.

I will not bury her. It will be dark in a few hours. I will leave her to a passing coyote–the small ones can get through my iron fence–or a swooping hawk. It is the kindest thing, I think, to let her feed others.

Her eyes are still open. The blood on her chest has already started to dry and congeal. It is 92 degrees out there, but she is in the shade. Hawks like to catch their prey alive, but they will pick up carrion. Coyotes will eat anything, but I haven’t seen a small enough one lately to get through my barrier. Perhaps an owl or a roadrunner will come by.

Tomorrow, if she’s still there, I’ll have to do something respectful.

Oh, quail!

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2 Responses to “Oh, quail!”

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Hi Mused. (julian hangs his head a little. Swirls the ground with the toe of his shoe once.)
Long time no hear huh.
I’ve been away a while and decided i needed to make the time to look around for my old blog friends. Glad you’re still around.
This post is touching and rather timely as I just went through a physical today for a life insurance policy in the event I get hit by a bus or happen upon some untimely demise, The Deistette won’t be left needing to prop me up in the corner.
Hope all is well. ~julian

OH, this is so timely. It’s baby duck season here, and if anyone in the world has it tough, it’s baby ducks. I’ll not describe all the awful things that can happen to them, but they always leave me feeling much as you did with your quail.

If it weren’t for Annie Dillard, I don’t know if I could cope. But she has such a straightforward, realistic yet tender way of looking at the ways of the world, it all seems to fit somehow.

I’m going to pretend your girl quail’s mate, having grieved, has gone off to find a new happiness. It makes me feel better.


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