Nesting Time

An excellent excuse yesterday to give up weeding an overgrown part of my garden. As I reached for a dandelion, a hen quail scurried from the vegetation just inches from my hand. She stopped a few feet away, chirping her displeasure. I apologized for disturbing her, but to no avail. She fled to the thicket up the hill and raised a frantic alarm. Curious, I reached under a thimbleberry bush and lifted a soft handful of last year’s blue-eyed grass. Underneath was a nest filled with speckled green-blue quail eggs. It was a perfect site for a ground-nesting bird: a small, enclosed garden, the house on one side, a high retaining wall on the other, with fences at each end to deter predators. The nest was right up against the wall of the house, sheltered from spring rain by the house eaves, and from wind by the thimbleberry.

I gathered up kneeling pad, implement and weed bucket and retreated to the gate. Closing it quietly behind me, I kept watch from a distance. After a few minutes, the hubbub faded. The hen flew back to the top of the wall, accompanied by her cock. After a few more minutes of hesitation, she fluttered down to the nest.

Soon cute fluff balls will poke around among the ferns and violets and learn to scale the wall. The weeds can wait.

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