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
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.