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On the Frontier:

The Pied Quail

On going to the water-holes in the morning we see flocks of the pied or desert quail coming to the puddles to drink -.- a rare and beautiful game-bird, well worthy to have a few words said about him.
quail photo

Pied quails are strictly confined in range to deserts, and in them only found in a few places ; though, wherever met with, these birds are generally numerous. They weigh, in their feathers, three to the pound ; and, as far as comparison by memory is to be relied on, seem identical with the common Mexican quail, except in plumage. The desert quails are of a general sandy hue, mottled and splashed all over with irregular gray-brown and reddish spots. When in open view, a little distance off and quite still, they are practically invisible, looking exactly like a lot of scattered stones. But the most remarkable thing about them is that, unlike all other wild birds I am acquainted with^ not only are no two of them exactly alike in their markings, but the variations are excessive, both in the colouring, shape, and size of the spots.

At Marl Springs I have invariably been successful in making a decent bag of these birds, but I must confess to having sinned against the sporting code on those occasions, and taken an unfair advantage of them ; but it must be remembered I was shooting, not for spoil, but for breakfast, and wanted to get a sufficient number of birds in time to be cooked for that meal. I used, therefore, to conceal myself behind some rocks within easy distance of the puddles, and wait for the flocks coming to drink at daylight, and, on their arrival, take a rake at them. On the last occasion of my camping at Marl Springs I murdered -.- that is the proper name for it -.- twenty-nine of these beautiful and delicious birds in three shots. First shot, thirteen ; the next, nine ; and lastly, seven.

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