Mourning bird II
There have been a few who have expressed a desire to know “the conclusion” of the May 20 column about the “mourning quail,” that male California quail that found his mate dead on my patio after she accidentally flew into a sliding glass door. And there is indeed a conclusion. Of sorts.
On the fifth day after her untimely demise, her mate was still hanging with her, never daring to leave her side for too long. I had moved her body out away from the glass door that had been her grim reaper and out into the desert, because, honestly, she was getting’ a little biological. Her eyes had been consumed by those insects that thrive on such morsels, and the flies were now beginning to sense that here was a fine new nursery. So off in the desert near the end of the patio she was hauled, placed in such a way that I could still monitor the actions of her still distraught partner.
Only, she was still too close to my bedroom, which resulted in me being awakened before dawn every morning by the calls of her boy. He carried on with his normal routine of gaining a bit of elevation in a nearby brush so he could stand guard to make sure all was good while she, well … rotted away. He would crank up a regular, one-note squawk, as if to say, All is fine, I don’t see anything troubling out there, my darling, so just go ahead and do your thing. Which, in this case, was, sadly, decomposition. His calling, though, was a bit too loud for my taste, so I got up and moved her again, away from the bedroom area and a little deeper into desert, but still within sight.
It didn’t take long for this next chapter to occur. Within a half hour of putting her in the new spot, she was gone. Just a couple of her feathers left behind to mark her brief time there. Hmmm, I wondered. Which local beast might have been the bodysnatching ghoul?
This is coyote country, so I never see stray cats roaming about. Visiting dogs are rare, too, with most neighbors doing well in terms of keeping Fido under control. They were off the suspect list. I’m guessing probably it was a dark carrion specialist; either a vulture (rare in these parts, but possible) or a raven (more likely). Whomever the culprit, the carcass had quickly departed, to be processed properly by a creature that desired a bit of privacy for his task.
That was weeks ago. I still see the lonely quail around here, scurrying about the brush. I’m guessing it’s him, because he’s the only single male I ever see. This lonely “widower” will get atop a brush and go through his vocal routine on a daily basis, calling … what? To perhaps still instinctively protect an unseen mate to who has long since become raven poop? Or maybe to let the unclaimed girls in the ’hood know that he’s back on the market? As always in such matters, I can only guess.