A California Quail–in our back yard?

We entertained a very unlikely visitor today. Actually, he entertained us.

I need to set this up a bit.

Our neighborhood, with many large trees and a lush golf course, is quite “green” compared to much of what surrounds us. But we still live 12-miles from downtown Los Angeles. What we experience as suburbia is still in the heart of urban living.

I’ve written many times about suburban wildlife and shared stories of interesting and unexpected visitors to our back yard.

Before today I think this black-crowned night heron feeding from our pond was the most surprising visitor. We must have been on his flight path!

But I’m still scratching my head about today’s very unexpected guest.


This is a California Quail. Our state bird! Surprise!

This beautiful western tanager was also in our back yard today. This time of year we have visitors “just passing through” on their migratory path.

Most of our resident birds are sweet little regulars, but not particularly colorful.

I hope I didn’t hurt their feelings today when I actually squealed in delight as this new friend stopped by and lingered for a few hours.

This is not the same photo as the first. He just didn’t do very much. My several dozen photos look amazingly similar.

If Jay had not been sitting outdoors having his lunch I think we’d have missed this special visit.

I can’t overemphasize how completely unusual and unexpected it is for us to have a California quail in our backyard. I’m a Los Angeles native and I’ve never seen one outside of vast open foothill, rural or mid-state seaside locations.

I can’t wait until tomorrow.

I’ll be watching!

“Spend time every day looking and listening without any ulterior motive whatsoever. Look not as a writer, or as a philosopher, not even as a scientist or artist—look and listen, simply, like a child, for enjoyment, because the world is interesting and beautiful. Let in nature without the vast and complicated apparatus of duty, ambition, habit, morals, profession—look and listen like a child to the robin in the tree. Of such sights and sounds are the kingdom of beauty, the sources of power and joy.”
—David Grayson (pen-name Ray Standard Baker)