Quails are everywhere here, from early spring until the late fall. They are also around in winter, but are not seen as readily.
The females usually walk around, preoccupied with their search for things to eat. Very often, they are so distracted that they will walk into the oddest place, including the garage, the verandah or the studio.
The male, recognizable by the large feather on top of his head, which he appears to follow like a carrot on a stick, is usually perched on something slightly higher than the foraging hen, keeping an eye out for any danger.
Their decidedly odd behaviour is well-known to all who drive vehicles in Quail-occupied areas. A clutch of them will be safely on one side of the road when suddenly they’ll throw themselves in front of a passing vehicle in an insane attempt to get to the other side of the road. The weird thing is that they do this even when there is no other traffic, and could have crossed the road safely after the vehicle had gone by.
Last summer, two females and a male, the male in tow, walked in through the back door of the garage. I happened to be there, working on something or other. The main garage door was open as well the back door, in an attempt to create a breeze.
“Hey!” I said, “You’re not supposed to be in here!”
All three looked up at me, startled. Then, with a noisy flapping of wings, flew up into the rafters, where I store some wood. Staring down at me, they continued clucking.
I pointed to the wide open garage door and said: “Out of here!” They moved farther away into the rafters, the females on the boards which are laid across the lower part of the trusses; the male hopping up to one of the angled truss members above.
The gloom above the raised garage door became filled with agitated clucking. They just stayed. Clucking.
It took over an hour for the females to get out. The male, clearly more fearful, remained inside while the females called for him from the outside. His replies to the ladies became more and more hysterical, as apparently sick of waiting for him to find the courage to fly down and run out, they gradually moved away some 30 feet from the garage while calling.
Finally, after another twenty minutes, he found the courage to jump down and run out at full speed.