Was walking the dogs and saw a couple of cartoon birds. They were California Quail, a male and female, young, cartoonish creatures the like of which find their way into actual cartoons pretty often. They look Disney-designed. The males are pudgy, with sartorially splendid markings, stylish piping of white about black masks, golden yellow speckling a proud breast that looks like something from a Punch illustration of a fat Brit noble–and of course, that bold and impudent plume drooping over their beaks, a kind of apostrophe always setting off the bubbling pip pip noises they make. They run, these guys, more often than they fly, sprinting like roadrunners when pursued. They love a good dust bath too–they totally luxuriate in dust baths.
And they like parties. Once I went out behind my house and found a large covey, or really a whole flock of them, communing along the edges of my roof, on tree branches, the fences–scores and scores of them facing inward into the yard, pipping and plipping at one another. I read that they’re “highly social” and in this case they were positively conventioneers.
On the walk I watched the young quail couple making a single dotted line across the ground through someone’s yard, the female following in the exact turns of the trail left by the male. A charming sight. Sometimes it’s relaxing to unashamedly revel in the site of an adorable, plump little bird with a plume. Who would harm such a–*BLAM!* Dick Cheney at a “game farm”…where “hunters” go into a fenced area, find the little birds, and blow them to pieces, for fun, with a shotgun. Cheney loves to do it with quail, doves, grouse… and if he’s been drinking he might shoot his friend in the face.