Saturday, April 09, 2005

Bobwhite Days in Evinston

After nearly two days of some fearful thunderstorms that spawned flooding and damaging tornados, the Sun has come out again over my rural village of Evinston (scroll down for java-script link) in north central Florida.

I lay awake in bed this morning, as the first rays of sunlight lit the sky, and listened to the many birds cheerfully greet the day, as I always do. Today was a Bobwhite coming-out party. The air resounded in all quarters until 4:00 p.m. with the clear and distinctive two-note "bob-WHITE!" calls of their namesake, and now the 4-6 individuals have fallen silent. To my ears, the call sounds rather more like "toot-SWEET!" or "hoot-WHEEET!" than "bob-white". The call is a perfect and surprisingly loud and ringing whistle that rises abruptly at the end of the second syllable. I can easily replicate this whistle, and, chiming in between calls of the birds, I like to imagine that the birds hear and respond to my attempts to join their party (I frequently try to whistle-banter with Eastern Towhees and Carolina Wrens too, in the same fashion.)

I killed a Gambel's quail when I was but 18, as it foraged among the willows and vegetation along a small tributary of the Payette River near Horseshoe Bend, Idaho. The blast blew the poor bird's legs right off and didn't kill it. I cried when I looked at the helplesss bird's lively black eyes, knowing I had to dispatch it. I haven't willingly killed a bird since, although I once shot unsuccessfully at a Canada goose with my brother VBC2, as it winged over a frozen Snake River near Rexburg, Idaho, in about 1980. I wonder if he remembers that occasion?

I also have observed in Idaho the rarer and secretive Mountain Quail, and,
near The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, the lovely Scaled Quail, whose neck and chest feathers reminded me of the large scales of the carp and other similar fish.

No comments: