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      Nature Report: Quail Young

      Watching over her chicks from atop a log, this female scaled quail makes sure there are no predators lurking nearby as her youngsters busily scratch out a few seeds. From her lofty perch, she calls out to her brood, all the while scanning the surroundings for any threat to the vulnerable chicks. The baby quail are only a few weeks old, but they are very alert and have apparently inherited their mother's watchfulness, and while foraging they also keep looking about in case they need to flee. After a few minutes, the female leaves her perch and warily walks down to the ponds edge where she is soon joined by five of her offspring.

      It takes a little while, but eventually all nine of the baby quail assemble pond side.

      The little rascals are getting pretty independent, but there is safety in numbers and once mom moves off the little ones soon scurry after her.

      However, there is always one that is the last to leave. Scaled-quail inhabit the arid brush country of the western Valley, and are so named for the scaly appearance of their feathering.

      They are also called blue quail for the dark bluish coloration they manifest in certain light; another appellation is cotton top for the jaunty white crest the adult's sport. One of their favorite foods this time of year is the ripening fruit or tunas of the prickly pear cactus.

      The hen finds the tuna first and is soon joined by the chicks, but after she departs they all follow, save for one who just can't resist one last bite. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore