I hate to say it, but many birds have had a taste of freedom thanks to me. The bad part is, they probably did not get to enjoy it for long. Like my sweet lovebird Jake who has been gone for a year now, escape birds become hawk snacks quickly. At least he had found a yard where the people kept chickens, so food and water were available.
Years ago when I was running my first bird mart for my bird club, I agreed to take a bunch of lovebirds from a woman who had let her first pair breed until the cage was overcrowded. Not handfed, some of the birds were beautiful mutations, and I knew they would go well on the opportunity table. The woman had left all the birds in the big cage and laid it down in her SUV to deliver to me. The door on the front slid open at one point and one of the young birds flew out.
We got the rest safely into the house before chasing the youngster. He had landed in a neighbor’s lemon tree. The woman was sure he would come to her because he knew her. The man who owned the tree brought a ladder for her to use and squirted the bird with a hose. (Wet birds have trouble flying) This bird did not come to her, even if he knew her and flew away before the hose could get him wet. We chased him down the block until we lost sight of him over a tall stand of trees. Never heard any more about him.
When I kept parakeets outside in an ordinary cage without an airlock, I lost one while trying to net youngsters to sell. Luckily the bird hadn’t learned to fly very well, and I caught it in the tall grass nearby. That had a happy ending.
So button quail can fly. Everyone says they will jump straight up but don’t fly. This is not so. The six button chicks I had fledged and outgrew the inside cage. Plus I expected another large clutch to be along shortly, so I had to make room. I had a normal flight cage outside where I sometimes put Maynard for some sunshine while I did outside bird chores. I set the tray in the cage, on top of the wire grid and covered it with rabbit pellets. Using a long, narrow planter with a door cut in it, upside-down it makes a great shelter for the quail. I had a water dispenser and a food hopper and sprinkled fine grit on top of the shelter. In went the quail. They milled around and then settled down to a happy routine.
After a day or so, I needed to clean and refill the water. I expected the quail to stay to the back of the cage or jump up, so I opened the lower door to get the water. Zip! Out went one of the white ones, the ones I expect are males. I shut the door and tried to catch him as he went toward the house. He flew over my head and away across the yard. The last I saw of him, his little white butt was dragging as his little white wings carried him over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard. I ran out to try to track him, but there was absolutely no sign of a button quail next door.
After that, I only used the upper door to service the cage. Yesterday, zip! Another boy flew up and past my head to get away. He went over the back fence. There’s no way I could have gotten over there in time to look. I am going to use a towel over the door from now on. The silver lining is that neither of my two hens escaped. Knock on wooden perches.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.