One of my favorite creatures that we see on trips to Big Bend Ranch State Park is the scaled quail.
When I was a kid, there was a large covey of bobwhite quail that lived near the dirt road entering our property. It was such a treat to see them running around, and they much prefer to run than fly. Bobwhite quail have a distinctive run. Their little legs and feet go like mad while their body stays smooth and steady, all while holding their head high so they can see their surroundings. As years passed, there were fewer and fewer in the covey, and then they were gone.
Our first trip to Big Bend Ranch State Park was in September. They had experienced a bit more rain than usual, some just before our arrival. The abundance of foliage and flowers was awe inspiring. The Chihuahuan Desert landscape was impressively alive with color.
As we drove the long, sand and gravel road toward the ranger station, I saw a bird running and darting around the bushes near the side of the road in the distance. All I could do was stare at this beautiful bird with the reminiscently familiar behavior. "THAT'S A QUAIL!," I exclaimed with joy and excitement. I hadn't seen quail in the wild in 20 years.
But he didn't look like the bobwhite quail I grew up knowing. He's bigger and has a crest on top of his head. What the heck is it?! We stopped the truck and piled out to watch these adorable birds. To our pleasant surprise, one of them hopped up on top of a large boulder to see us better - and we could see him better too. So, we took his picture.
above: When directly facing us, it was noticeable how narrow his head is.
above: The muted colors in their feathers are oh so pretty.
The birds wandered off, and we eventually arrived at the ranger station. We showed the ranger pictures we had taken of the bird. She looked through their photos and identified it as a scaled quail. Mystery solved.
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