This is Baby Spaz; he is the sweetest, most adorable bird I have ever met, plus he is totally tame, which is very unusual for a button. You see, His parents, Lancelot and Guinivere, were virtual egg machines, but were never interested in nesting on them. One day I took two of their eggs and put them in the nest of two of my ringneck doves (doves love to nest!), having no idea what the incubation period was, or if doves were the right temperature. Well, seventeen days later, I got up in the morning and there was the tiniest fuzzy olive with a Q-tip head, looking at me! I absolutely panicked, because I knew doves couldn't raise a quail (you should have seen the doves' faces, though, they were absolutely perplexed by this little thing, but they didn't kick him out of the nest) I called a friend and then held Baby Spaz in my hands to keep him warm until my friend could bring a heating pad. Well, I guess the bonding started right then because from that time on Spaz wouldn't let me out of his sight (and I wouldn't let him out of mine!)
I took the crisper drawer out of the fridge, washed it out, and set him up in it (as nothing else I had around was the right size), with a nice towel over the heating pad, and a washcloth all tufted up so he could go under it to get warm and hide. But if I left the area he would start up the most pitiful crying, it just broke my heart. The problem was, it was right during exams, and I had to study! I couldn't keep running over to him, so finally I decided to set myself up on the floor by his little makeshift brooder, lay on my stomach, and stick my foot over the edge of the crisper! And it worked! I guess he didn't need to see my face or my hands, just any part of me would do. Of course the next night when I had to go take the exam I was a wreck, leaving him alone, but he got throughit okay.
This is just the start of how Baby Spaz bacame the tamest quail I have ever met. I taught him how to eat and drink by tapping my fingernail in his food and water, and I held him cupped in my hands every chance I got. To this day, He'll climb right into my hands when I reach in to him and either go right to sleep or "preen" my palm with his beak. One of his favorite things to do is ruffle in my hair, like a dust bath; we can lay on the couch for hours, with him just ruffling away, occasionally stretching out his little orange legs or taking a nap. I haven't cut my hair in almost two years because he likes it so much! He obviously thinks I am his "other quail", because when he is out on the floor exploring, and finds something good, he'll hold it in his mouth, look at me and make his little thumping noise until I come take it from him. I always pretend to eat whatever it is, so I don't hurt his feelings, except for the one time he gave me a little spider he'd found, which I didn't know was a spider until I took it. Gross!
Baby Spaz and I have had some truly amusing adventures together; we've traveled, moved, studied together and even talked on the phone! One of my favorite vacations was with Baby Spaz (great traveling companion!) and my (now ex-) boyfriend, Tim (left much to be desired riding shotgun). In April of 1994, I was getting ready to go to Cape Cod to visit my mother (about twelve hours from Ohio) and I was taking Spaz because Mom hadn't seen him since the previous summer. I wasn't quite so thrilled about bringing Tim along, as he'd just broken his foot playing basketball, and was being a big baby about the whole thing. But I packed both of them up in the car, Baby Spaz in his ten-gallon travel tank, and Tim in his size thirteen inflat-o-cast, and headed east. I drove, of course, as neither Tim nor Spaz had a valid license at the time, and in deference to Tim's need for attention and a good view of the scenery, strapped Button in the back seat, and boyfriend in the front. What a hellish experience that ride turned out to be! (Anyone who's ever taken route 80 across Pennsylvania knows what I mean!) Tim griped the whole way about how bad the bumps were hurting his foot, we fought over which tapes to listen to, and he ate all the Ho-Ho's. Baby Spaz, on the other hand, was quite a little trooper, and quickly got used to the moving vehicle, running back and forth now and then, taking an occasional nap, and even whistling out loud at the change in landscape. When we finally got to Mom's place, Tim plunked himself down
in the recliner in front of the TV, and said nary a word for the next four days. The rest of us had a pretty good time, though, Spaz getting acquainted with Mom's parakeets, playing various board games in which Baby Spaz participated as both player and recalcitrant game piece, and enjoying wonderful home-cooked meals. (It was on this trip that Baby Spaz discovered his adoration for fresh cinnamon rolls) We even indulged in the traditional New England lobster dinner, Baby Spaz preferring his lobster bits without butter! When it came time to head back to Ohio, I wasn't going to make the same mistake I'd made on the way out; this time, Spaz got the front seat, next to me, and Tim camped out in the back seat, stuck his foot up in the rear window ledge, and promptly went to sleep. Needless to say, this leg of the journey was far more enjoyable than the first: more pleasant conversation, less whining, and Baby Spaz didn't mind listening to Björk one bit.
Baby Spaz, Me, and Tim's Foot
Even though I've lived in five different places during his lifetime, Spaz has been the one bird who got to go exactly where I went, even when it wasn't feasible or appropriate to bring the other six (all doves). In 1995, when I was waiting for the closing on my house, the lease on my duplex ran out and the landlords wouldn't let me stay on a month to month basis (hmpf!). I had no choice but to put all my stuff in storage and find some temporary digs for myself and the birds. The doves went to "Sky Kings", a great all-bird store that also boards my birds when I go on vacation, but there was no way I could be without Baby Spaz every day! I found a beautiful bed-and-breakfast right here in town, all the rooms filled with antique furniture and truly beautiful accessories...but it was an awfully small room, and why they'd chosen to put a king-sized bed in there was beyond me, as you could barely get from one side of the room to the other without climbing over it! The owners were very understanding, and kind enough to let me pack away all the lamps and knicknacks from the top of the mahogany dresser so that Spaz and his four-foot tank would have a place to stay. We were there for an entire month, and it was almost like being on vacation with my little pal (except for that little technicality called "going to work" while Baby Spaz got to stay home and watch soap operas. Just kidding; Spaz has better taste than that, and I think he prefers the cooking channel!)
Well, I hope you've enjoyed reading these stories as much as I've enjoyed putting them together. I hope that you too have had the opportunity to have a wonderful tame quail in your life; if not, may the power of the peep soon send a button your way to steal your heart! Happy Quails!
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