We started out with 16 quail. When they got to be adults, we culled 4 of them (3 males and 1 puny female). That left us with 12 quail all happily living in a spacious indoor/outdoor pen. They seemed very content, even giving us 5-7 pretty little eggs a day. (Quail eggs are great for pickling by the way!)
Then one day a couple weeks ago the Big Onion decided to do a head count. He came up with 9. We were missing 3 birds. These guys don't get let out every day like the rest of our birds, the door stays shut, and we thought the pen was pretty well secured with a double layer of chicken wired covering the outdoor area.
I finally discovered one tiny little spot in the front corner of the pen that might be big enough for a quail and blocked it up.
Then a couple of days ago, I was happily watering the watermelon patch in the garden (one of the few things I managed not to kill) and out pops a little quail! I grabbed a nearby flower pot and tried to catch her, but the little bugger took flight....straight into the back yard where 3 shelties and a Barley were just waiting for an afternoon snack to fly into their laps.
I started yelling, "LEAVE IT! LEAVE IT! ISWEARTOGODIFYOUTOUCHITIWILLKILLYOU!!!" and all 4 dogs hit the breaks and put on their best "Who us? We would never!" looks.
I guess this little quail gal picked up some survival skills in her couple weeks 'in the wild' because despite my best efforts, I was never able to catch her. Last I saw, she flew into the neighbor's huge hay field and disappeared into the tall grass.
So, right now we have 50-something quail eggs in the incubator since our last batch was a complete dud. I blame the automatic turner. That damn thing always gives us terrible hatch rates.
Hopefully, we can fill out our missing ranks with a good number of females. Keeping our fingers crossed for a successful hatch in a couple of weeks!