20 January, 2012

Camera shy California Quail

Cute as they are California Quail just won't co-operate for my camera.  But the tribe of them that lives in our field are a continuing fascination. This summer there are four or five adults and about 15 chicks.  I often come across them, sometimes gathered around a tree or moving through the grass like a school of fish.

These birds were bought here from the United States many years ago, and like many of our plants and flowers found Central Otago just like their California homeland and they have flourished. 

It's really hard to see and hard to get a distinct photo of them.  But there is always a leader that takes responsibility.  It gets up on a vantage point and supervises the group and leads them away from danger.
See several chicks here.  ?   Try looking up from and left of center.
See some more ?   Try center and left of center.  An adult too.
The leader likes to keep the chicks away from the car.  It's a threat to them, just like it is to children.  I did get this lucky photo from the car window right at the front gate as the leader supervised them.
Supervision from a height.  The control tower.
Once I encountered the group on the driveway so I abruptly stopped the car.  A good vantage point.  One by one the chicks gathered up courage and darted across in front of me to rejoin the adults.  A clear count.  Fifteen.
A fancy plume for the boss Quail
Another time returning from town on the driveway near the house I scattered the whole group.  Next thing I noticed the boss bird perched on "Angus" - our steel rabbit.  "Angus" is a  good vantage point from which to call the group together.  And from which the bird was able to keep a very good eye on me and make sure I was not going to interfere.
"I can see you human.  I am watching you."
"You chicks get over here.  We are moving away from this human."
And off they went.


  1. Great post and you got some good shots!
    Watching quail is a favorite pastime....unfortunately where we are situated, the quail can't be seen easily any longer. Only when we were 'camping' on the place waiting for the house to be built did we see them on a regular basis.
    Creatures of habit, you almostcan predict when they'll arrive to scratch and peck around while the guard quail watches.

    The largest family I ever saw, parents and a dozen or more chicks, was in NZ near Totaranui.

  2. I love the little feather on top of his head. Very fashionable. Is that what's called a fascinator? Tee hee.

  3. Our canyon is full of quail. In the spring they walk around in couples. After the babies are born they gather together in large coveys and one bird, like the one on your fence post keeps watch. They are called sentinel birds. I have seen them chase off a road runner, interested in their babies, here. I just love to watch them too. So you have both poppies and quail...anything else from California?

  4. Inger. Try these posts.
    17 October, 2010
    12 October, 2011
    Miners Lettuce
    03 December, 2011
    The California trees that came to New Zealand
    20 January, 2012
    Camera shy California Quail
    13 November, 2010
    California's State Flower. In New Zealand.
    As well as the remnants. There was the history. Our gold rush was part of the pacific rim gold rushes. Involving the same people, and technology. A number of our street names here are of americans who came 150 years ago and became local identities.

  5. It is a bitterly cold day here in Italy so I am staying warm and cosy by the fire and catching up on my blog reading. Great capture of the quail, especially photo number four.

  6. They are such pretty birds. Like Linda we are very cold and we have been snowed in for the past week!!


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