DESERT AWARENESS COMMITTEE There’s a Quail Nest in My Geraniums

Quail can live happily alongside humans if humans cooperate

quail“There’s a quail nest in my geraniums…” or nasturtiums, or window flower box or planter in the entryway, or…well, you get the idea!

Whatever the situation or nest site of choosing, the caller is concerned and wants to know what he/she can do to insure the survival of the little quail family-in-the-making, as well as make the quail mom safer and more comfortable. Usually the person would also like to know what to do so the family will stay nearby. Not every situation or solution can be anticipated or put into a single article, but there are things you can do to make their chances a little better.

Nature did a great job of designing quail, but quail behavior evolved long before houses, pets, cars (and streets with straight curbs) were introduced into their habitat. Quail are very adaptive, however, and can live quite happily alongside humans if humans know what to expect.

Gambel’s Quail are remarkably adapted to desert living, as they are native only to states of the Sonoran Desert. They eat a wide variety of tiny weed seeds, small insects and an enormous variety of small green plants. In arid areas, much of their water intake is from the plants that they eat. In neighborhoods, however, they readily drink from bubblers, drip systems, sprinklers, etc. A dripping faucet can become a regular “quail social center!”

If you feed the birds, a quail block or good quality of wild bird seed with a lot of little seeds in it is ideal for quail. Quail don’t eat the larger seeds, and rarely eat cracked corn (corn creates so much body heat in the bird’s system, especially in Arizona in the summer). Seeds that are too big or have a lot of cracked corn in the mixture will attract mostly pigeons.

quailQuail usually make their nests on the ground, under cactus, bougainvillea, rosemary, ferns, ivy, or any other dense plant that offers shelter and privacy. A quail hen will lay one egg every other day, and may lay between 8 and 30 eggs before she starts to incubate them. She will sit on the nest about 21 days and all the eggs should hatch within several hours. Sometimes an egg or two doesn’t hatch with the rest, but may hatch from the summer heat several hours or even days after the others. By that time the rest of the family has had to go on, looking for food and water, and the chick (or egg) needs to be rescued and taken to a rehabilitator.

Not every nest site chosen by first-time quail parents is suitable, and sometimes their choice is dangerous or even fatal to the newly hatched chicks. Adult quail can fly to safety or to find food and water, but tiny, new chicks are confined to the ground for the first three weeks. The new little quail are hatched barely an inch tall, fuzzy, and running as soon as their fluff dries! Nearly everything will eat them, so they need to stay close to plants where they can hide. If you know where the quail nest is, you can put game-bird starter under nearby bushes for the parents even before the chicks hatch. (Game-bird starter is a very fine mash, from a feed store. Pet stores probably won't have it, but Wild Bird stores usually will.) The quail will be used to the feed and water being available and keep the chicks nearby when they hatch. You should also put VERY shallow containers such as peanut butter jar lids, jelly jar lids, etc., either filled with water or a hose dripping slowly into the lid, out for them in the same place as the feed. Put a layer of small pebbles in the lid so the chicks don’t slip and get wet or drown. They can drown in anything deeper than a jar lid.

quailIf the nest is in a flowerpot or planter, the dirt in the container needs to be within an inch of the rim so the babies can get out after they hatch. A fall of 2 or 3 feet to the ground shouldn’t hurt them. If any chicks or eggs are left in the pot after the rest of the family is gone, they need to be rescued immediately. If you are putting the game-bird starter and water out before they hatch, the family may still be around, but be certain it is that chick's family. If not, don’t try to put it with another family. It will get pecked and perhaps killed. Pick it up and call a rehabilitator.

You can make your yard a safer place for the little quail by making sure that the dirt is not more than an inch from the top of flower beds, tree wells, planters, or anything they may need to get out of to follow their parents. Check to make sure that the dirt is not more than an inch from the top of whatever container the nest is in. Usually the dad will be on the ground with the chicks that have already hatched, and mom will still be in the nest with the ones still hatching. If the chicks seem weak, or a parent is not with them when they hatch, they need to be rescued and taken to a rehabilitator immediately.

If you have a quail or killdeer chick or eggs, an injured adult quail or killdeer, or just questions about them, please don’t hesitate to call me at 602-996-1934. Be sure to leave your phone number if you get a message machine as we receive many rescue calls a day. During hatching season, from April to August, I am very busy (each year I receive between 500 and 1000 Gambel’s Quail chicks!) and it may take a little while to return all calls, so please be patient. While waiting for our return call, protect the chick from danger, keep it warm and dry in cloth towels warmed to skin temperature in a microwave, don’t attempt to water or feed the chick, and don't let people handle or play with it.

The wildlife rehabilitation volunteers (that’s us) and the public (that’s you) have to be a team to make this work. Remember, with your help, we can make a difference in a lot of little lives. Please remember also that we are all volunteers and most of us do this in our own homes, at our own expense. Some of us have full time jobs as well as families to take care of, in addition to the feeding, watering, medicating, rescuing, etc., so again, please be patient.

If you can safely transport the bird or animal you find (or transport for someone else who doesn’t or can’t drive), please do. Transport is one of our most critical needs and it really helps if you can transport. Volunteers are hard to find (and keep) to raise the wildlife and birds, much less to transport, and we get many rescues per day. If we leave for an hour to transport something that you can bring to us, several other things may die without care in that hour.

If I have not returned your call in an hour, please call one of the following drop-off locations for Arizona Covey:
WildWing Rehabilitation, Inc. – 480-893-6660
Wild at Heart – 480-595-5047
Nights & weekends: Paradise Valley Emergency Animal Clinic – 480-991-1845
Thanks for your help.

Bottom photo by Jeani Garrett

JUNE 15, 2011

Arizona Centennial celebrated all summer long

Season calendar filled with Official Arizona Centennial Events

PHOENIX – The Arizona Centennial ( has announced a summer-long calendar of activities, projects and events throughout the state that reflect the state’s diverse cultures and regions during the Countdown to Arizona’s 100 Years.

The Arizona Centennial Commission, through its Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation Special Events Committee, established an Official Arizona Centennial Events Designation Program to encourage tribes, counties, cities, towns and organizations to participate in the celebration of Arizona’s 100th Statehood.  Events range from major celebrations to exhibitions and festivals.  The application to become a designated Official Centennial Event is online at

The following events are on the calendar this summer:

June 7 – July 31.  Stamping Through Arizona (Show Low).  Sponsored by the Show Low Historical Society, students stamp their way through Arizona History in this youth educational program that chronicles Arizona from the early 1400s to the present. The emphasis is on 1800-1900 when Arizona was a territory and fledgling state.  Jun 7 – July 31.  More information at

June 17.  Arizona Pioneers’ Home 100th Birthday (Prescott). The Pioneers’ Home celebrates its own centennial year in 2011 with a series of educational open houses to increase awareness of the Pioneers’ Home. An Open House is scheduled Fri., June 17, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

June 24 – 25.  Scottsdale 60th Birthday Party (Scottsdale). Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, two-day celebration on the 60th anniversary of Scottsdale. Event includes a "cowboy campfire" on Friday night, with cowboys telling tales of old-time Scottsdale; Mayor/Council Breakfast Birthday Party, Saturday, with speakers reminiscing about early Scottsdale; music, food, historic displays and children's activities. Fri. & Sat., June 24 – 25. Visit

July 1.  Light Up the Sky (Phoenix).  At Maryvale Baseball Park, this annual community event celebrates the country's birthday alongside the Arizona Centennial and Merle Lewis who will celebrate a 100th birthday at the event.  The celebration comes with a fireworks show.  Fri. July 1

July 1 – 2.  Southwest Ambulance Arizona Celebration of Freedom (Mesa). A 2-day FREE celebration of America’s freedom and independence culminating with a spectacular salute to America and celebrating Arizona’s 100th birthday. Special readings and stories about Arizona’s founding. July 1 – 2

July 2 – 4.  The Making of America: Our Way (Eager).  Presented by the Springerville-Eagar Regional Chamber of Commerce at the Round Valley School District Auditorium.  During the 4th of July weekend patriotic citizens will have an opportunity to understand the Constitution and hear how Arizona became the 48th state. $10. Sat.-Mon., July 2-4

July 4.  4th of July All American Festival &Centennial Celebration (Peoria). Peoria Sports Complex. It’s Peoria's 4th of July Celebration of Nationhood and Arizona's Statehood. $5, Mon., July 4.

July 4.  FreedomFest 2011- Arizona Centennial (Show Low). Show Low hosts one of the largest Independence Day events in the state. Parade in downtown Show Low. FreedomFest Concert, Field Day Games and Fireworks at Show Low High School outdoor sports facility. Food, crafts and family games. The community swells to nearly 50,000 freedom-loving citizens looking for an opportunity to escape the heat and enjoy Main Street America. FREE.  Mon., July 4

July 4.  Freedom Wireless Fabulous Phoenix (Phoenix).  At Steele Indian School Park, this Independence Day celebration features three stages of entertainment and one of the largest firework displays in the Southwest. FREE. Mon. July 4

July 15 – 16.  White Mountain Round Up (Lakeside). Blue Ridge High School. Fri. & Sat., July 15 – 16

July 16.  City of Phoenix Back to School and Health Fair (Phoenix). Presented by Latino Institute.  At Desert Sky Mall, this annual back-to-school informational and health fair feature over 50 information tables on education, school and lifestyle for families. Free backpacks w/school supplies and free haircuts for children. Entertainment and discussion sessions designed for the surrounding neighborhood with panel members from parks services, law, health, school issues, consumer products, civic engagement and more. Free immunizations, health screenings, mammograms, prostrate checks, dental, vision screenings and more. FREE. Sat., July 16.

July 21 – 24.  Lori Piestewa National Native American Games (Scottsdale).  A showcase for the talents and aspirations for America’s Native American athletes regardless of age or ability. It draws people from all over the country with a unique opportunity to highlight amateur sports. The Native American Games is at Fort McDowell Indian Reservation July 21 - July 24, 2011

Aug. 19 – 21.  The World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo (Payson).  The World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo represents Arizona’s heritage. In the beginning cowboys and cowgirls gathered throughout the Southwest to celebrate the end of round-up and show their skills in a hometown/ranch atmosphere where Arizona hospitality shone. The tradition continues today with the 128th rodeo taking place Aug. 19 – Aug. 21, 2011, Payson Event Center.
Whatever your event or activity may be, the Arizona Centennial Commission’s goal is to encourage participation and commemoration during these celebrations.

About Arizona Centennial Commission
The Arizona Centennial Commission, through its nonprofit Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation, is the statewide board charged by Governor Jan Brewer with planning and implementing Arizona’s 100th anniversary of statehood.  In collaboration with the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission, more than 209 projects and events are sanctioned and planned to-date to commemorate Arizona’s Centennial. For information on the Arizona Centennial, visit