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June 1st 2009

    In my view, the use and management of that ground over which the wife and I have control, has improved the quality of life amongst the feathered.  But when quail glance up at you from the perennial border and then waddle rather than fly off, a balance of power has shifted. 

    I once tended a garden in an English suburb which had a wooden shed underneath which a red fox raised children.  This is not uncommon.  The garden owner had absolutely no idea that quite large, four legged wild things were living rent free, and this despite the protest of their well meaning and very charming cat.  

    Briefly I considered telling my employer about the foxes, but the idea of this gave me a sense of betrayal, because in my imagination I had developed the impression that the garden owner might not have been happy with the knowledge.

    

    When it came time to tidy up near the den, I would be careful.  The cubs would keep quite still and from the correct angle I could sometimes see an ear, or an eye.  But as they grew they followed the usual pattern of children and developed daring.  The result of daring in these young foxes was gallivant and roughhouse amongst carefully tended flower beds.

    For some time I was able to blame this vandalism on the cat, until the poor creature was kept inside.  Then my excuses became increasingly outrageous.  But they were excuses that worked long enough for foxes to manage their equivalent of fledge.

    Conceivably the pair of quail rummaging in our perennial border here in Kentucky were raised in captivity and once were fed by people.  Then released or escaped, they tamely wandered in our direction.  A concept that might explain their behavior, but one for which there is not yet good evidence.    

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