When I got home from trivia night last night, as I pulled into the driveway, I saw what looked like a fuzzy little football sitting on my front porch.
I get out and go over to see what it is. Local kid’s toy? Giant fast-growing mushroom?
Nope. It’s a medium-sized brownish bird, huddled up into a ball. Pattern of feathers looks like a quail, but I’ve never seen one hunkered down like this, and I’ve certainly never encountered a quail that’ll let me walk right up to it.
So I’m standing right there, bending over, my face maybe a foot away from it, whispering: Hey there. What are you doing on my porch? Are you okay?
The little black eye adjusts a tiny bit as if it’s looking at me, so I know it isn’t dead, but the bird doesn’t move.
I touch the wing. No response. I poke it in the middle of its back. Nothing.
I’m thinking: So, what am I supposed to do now? I suppose the animal control people will be interested in this, because sick birds, especially quail (if that’s what this is), displaying odd behavior in urban areas can be indicators of disease and other problems.
And then, scoot! — suddenly the bird dashes forward and sails off the edge of the porch, belly-flopping into the flower bed. And stops again.
By this time, the cat has come out the front door, and of course is interested in whatever it is I’m interested in. So I go take another look, and this time I poke the bird in the tail, keeping the cat away with my foot. The bird jumps out of the flower bed and skitters across the lawn: and now I can definitely see it’s a quail.
Eventually it disappeared into the shrubbery bordering my neighbor’s hard, and I picked up the cat and brought him inside, but it’s still weird. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a quail actually in the city before. Edge of the suburbs, sure. Just not where I live.
And hunkered down on my porch, no less.
(Of course, now I’m thinking, Great, I gave myself West Nile by messing with a strange bird that’s someplace it shouldn’t be and that’s displaying nonstandard behavior. Heh heh.)
This mundane and pointless encounter with unusual urban wildlife has been brought to you by a fat little bird with a bobbing head and a funny gait.