An apprehension had been growing in us since last weekend. We went north, close to Sedona, for a very pleasant visit with old Connecticut friends. We had left eleven Gambel’s Quail eggs behind in the flower pot on our deck, four more than what we had initially discovered. But! We returned to discover that a twelfth egg had arrived.
Our relief was short-lived. Not only did no more eggs arrive in the following days, but we didn’t see anyone who might qualify as Mother Quail anywhere near the nest. We would check each day; that was about the only activity we had on the deck. Both of us seemed naturally to avoid that area, leaving it as a quiet spot that might induce the start of the incubation process. But, alas!, nary a favorable sign appeared.
By last Friday, our edginess was growing. Again, seeking the counsel of the East Valley Wildlife Center, I learned of the Arizona Covey Project. I left a message with them and they called back in the afternoon. Ms Jeannie’s advice was to wait another day and see if mom appeared. She didn’t . . . .
But, this weekend, the eighth of this winter’s Pacific cold fronts came through, making for a very chilly (for here) and windy Saturday. Ms. Jeannie opined that if the mother were going to appear, she would do so under these harsh conditions. In the alternative, should she not arrive and if it got hot enough for some consecutive days (we’ve already had temperatures in the low 90’s), the eggs could self-incubate, leaving the tiny chicks with no parental guidance. Bad thought, disturbing thought.
So, yesterday afternoon we delicately placed the lovely eggs in a small plastic tissue-filled flower pot and took ourselves to the Arizona Covey Project in North Phoenix.
Quite the place! There were caged birds of many kinds everywhere. There was also a wall of incubators that looked disturbingly like small ovens to me.
But, having trust in someone who clearly devotes her life to the rescue of birds (while we were there a call came in concerning a possible pelican rescue! Someone see a sea around here?), we left our eggs to her care.
Now when I say there were many kinds of birds there I ain’t whistling Dixie–they ran the gamut from sparrows to ducklings.
To give an idea of the scope of what goes on, their brochure states that they receive between 500 and 1,000 Gambel’s Quail chicks a year!
That is only one of the species that reside there. I was particularly gratified to examine a cage that contained 4 mature Peach-faced Love Birds, the same colorful, exotic creatures that flit around our Painted Mountain golf course in East Mesa.
What’s next? We asked Ms Jeannie if we could check in via email from Italy, to which spot we are now free to return, for progress reports. That was fine with her.