I was drinking coffee this morning and making my plan for my day of work (I've got to crank out a large art deco sculpture this weekend), when my phone rang. It was my friend Kathy calling, to see if I could identify the bird that was walking down her sidewalk, and being stalked my a cat.
I wonder what it says about my life that a call like this, at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, didn't seem weird at all.
Kathy emailed the photos that she had taken, and Robb and I scratched our heads. Clearly the bird was something in the chicken/grouse/pheasant family. But none of those birds should be sauntering around the neighborhoods of Oakland.
The mystery bird was allowing Kathy and her family to touch it, which did not bode well for the health of the bird. Kathy had a morning appointment, so she put the bird in a cat carrier in her garage, and we met up a little while later. We drove the bird up to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum's wildlife hospital, where we were informed that this animal was a Japanese (or "stubble") Quail with a broken keel bone. (That's the bird's breast bone.) These birds are for sale in Oakland's Chinatown, as a food animal, and apparently they often escape from captivity. Kathy's neighbors' dogs had mauled an identical bird earlier in the week, and the hospital told us that this was the second Japanese Quail they had seen this week.
Unfortunately for us, Lindsay's mission only permits them to care for native species, and so the staff gave us a couple of options. Either the bird, which was heavily bruised and seemed to be in pain, could be euthanized, or we could take it to an exotic animal vet, and hope to find a person to adopt our quail. The staff told us that this might cost hundreds of dollars.
Kathy and I went outside to discuss the options, and about the time we went back inside to get a few more questions answered, a long-time employee came through the door. She spoke with us, and examined the quail. I asked about the animal's chance of survival with the broken bone (good) and if Lindsay could provide us with a list of Tenderhearted Animal Lovers who might take the quail (they were uncomfortable with this). I also ascertained that there was no reasonable way that I could keep the quail in my urban garden at work. (Drat.)
After some discussion, this woman told us that she had a private bird sanctuary in Sunol, and that she would assume all responsibility for the quail. She wouldn't take a dime from us, either. So Kathy and I both made a donation to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum.
I was delighted. I've taken several birds into rehab facilities, but so far the stories always had unhappy endings. I guess we just had to keep trying.
That's Kathy holding our lovely little quail. I don't like to take a lot of pictures of captive birds, because I worry about stressing them out. The only photo of both the bird and Kathy was terribly out-of-focus.