The Rest of my Covey...

Autumn, 1997

This page features the newer additions to my quail family, all of whom have taken up residence in my "bird room" over the course of the past summer. All four of them were "rescued" from a local pet store where they were being kept in an overcrowded, wire-bottomed cage, by people who obviously know little or nothing about quails. To their credit, however, each time I would mention some particularly disturbing condition, (such as water dishes hung on the sides of the cage, too high for the birds to reach, a serious injury to one of the birds that the store seemed to be ignoring) the people I spoke to would make efforts to correct the problem. Still, I could not convince them to give each quail its own cage, or even move the group to a larger space so that they would not be as aggressive towards each other (as quails will be when confined to too small a space), and conditions were bad enough that I ultimately purchased four of the five buttons this store had for sale.

Bunny BUNNY and CIRRUS Cirrus

After a failed attempt to incubate and hatch a group of eggs sent to me by my friend Lauren Casey (my fault entirely; for some reason, the dove system did not work this time), I decided to break down and purchase two of the buttons I had seen at the pet store. Cirrus was in fine shape, somehow having managed to escape the angry beaks of his cagemates. Poor Bunny, however, was completely bare over her entire back and underside, having been literally plucked by the other birds. At this point, she had only her wing feathers to cover her skinny little body. This was truly a sad situation, and when I brought the pathetic little thing home, I wasn't sure she would ever be quite right. I put her in her own ten-gallon tank, so Cirrus would not be tempted to inflict further baldness upon her, and started her on a high-protein, vitamin-rich diet. Growing feathers is a high-intensity, nutrient consuming activity, and where she had so many to replace, I did not want to risk stunting her or making her physically ill because of lost "resources". Before long, she had sprouted rows and rows of tiny "feather sticks" all around, and within two weeks, the sticks blossomed into a full coat of beautiful healthy feathers. I fed her worms, which she would take from my hand (whereas Cirrus would not come near me) and soon she began to exhibit some unusual actions when I would come into the room, flopping down on her stomach and emitting a high-pitched "weep-weep-weep-weep"; the little thing was actually bonding to me! Next thing I knew, she was letting me pick her up, skritch her jaw and would follow me from room to room. As she has become an Exceptionally Tame Quail, I have given Bunny her own page, complete with pictures and a couple of cute stories.

Cirrus admiring himself
Handsome Bird!


These two little sweethearts were still at the pet store a month after I bought Cirrus and Bunny, so they got to come home with me too. I know I would have bought them sooner, but poor little Daria had been subjected to some unusually cruel pecking by the others, and I couldn't bear to bring her home if she was not going to make it. About the time I got Bunny and Cirrus, she had an open wound covering the entire back of her head. It truly made me sick to see. I put up such a fuss that the pet store people agreed to put her in her own cage, and I promised that if she got better, I would buy her. It hadn't looked promising at the time, the poor thing was literally weak from abuse. I went back every few days to see how she was doing, (and to make sure they didn't put her back in with the others) and she was getting better! Eventually I was confident enough of her recovery that I did buy her (and Atlas) and brought them home to be with Bunny and Cirrus. Four months later, Daria still has very few feathers where the injury was, but she's doing so remarkably well, that I think she truly is a little miracle quail. Now she lives with Cirrus, and they truly seem to adore each other; he doesn't even seem a bit put off by her "bald spot". :) I'm hoping they have long and happy lives together! As for Atlas, When I "rescued" him from the pet store, he'd been thoroughly plucked along his back, and was so pale and skinny looking, he made me think of "Charles Atlas", the proverbial 97-pound weakling. Like Charles Atlas, once that little bird grew back his feathers and "filled out", he turned out to be quite the handsome, robust looking guy. :)

I know that I've meant these quail pages to be fun and uplifting for us, and these stories are a bit depressing (even though they do have happy endings...) I guess I'm adding them here to remind us that we are the ones responsible for the welfare of these tiny creatures, and that we always have to be aware of the situations we (and others) put them in. If you're reading these pages, I know it's because you feel the same way about buttons that I do, and that you want them to have the most comfortable lives possible. Not everyone out there is so compassionate. So if you see a situation that you know is wrong, whether it's a button quail or any other animal, don't be afraid to speak up. Share your insights and experiences with those who are less informed. Yes, some people might be a bit perturbed, but, hey, we're talking about living beings here. What matters is that we make life a little better for the animals, maybe teaching the humans a bit in the process, and in doing so, we feel better about ourselves as well. In this way we all gain a little something!

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