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Male Gambel's Quail running along ground (Sandra Calderbank, sandra calderbank)

These New World Quail have quickly become some of my favorite birds to observe and photograph.  I photographed this Male Gambel’s Quail while visiting Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge this winter.  They tend to travel as a group, running on the ground.  While I was observing them, they seem to have a large male who “herds” and directs the rest of the group to food and away from any sensed danger.  The covey seem to eat and carry out their business while the “Look out  Male” stands guard.  He sends a warning call when danger approaches, such as a bird of prey overhead, and the flock scurries for cover.  They are fascinating and beautiful and I may be completely misinterpreting their behavior but it’s fun to presume and wonder.


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