I saved over a dozen lives today. Seriously. A dozen babies, all trapped in a storm drain, with their mother pacing above them, crying and nearly wringing her hands….er…feathers, in despair.
All right, the truth? I did save lives today and am quite happy and content I was able to. Babies? Yes. A dozen tiny, newborn quail that were about 1 1/2″ tall…three of them fit in one of my hands.
I pulled into our dentist office parking lot and as I did, I noticed a family of quail hovering over a storm drain grate. After parking, I went back to see what they were doing, and of course, try to get a picture of the family. As I drew closer I saw the mama quail pacing across the grate, peering down and calling over and over, in obvious distress. The daddy kept skirting the edges, not seeming to know what to do, and not doing much to keep the small brood of 8-10 remaining chicks away from the holes.
I edged closer and the mother herded her chicks away. Looking down into the grate I was horrified to see at least a dozen tiny babies had fallen into the hole below. None appeared injured, and thankfully, the ground was dry.
I tried calling the city works department. No one at their desk. Then the local newspaper, as it was less than a block away. They promised to try to help. I kept watch, praying a car wouldn’t run over the remaining family, when a woman on a bicycle came flying down the steep hill. I flagged her down, explained the situation, and she bailed off to help.
Together we removed the storm drain cover, I tossed my phone and purse on the pavement and flattened myself on the ground next to the hole, then reached carefully in and captured the first baby. The young woman took the chick and raced up the road a dozen yards to the waiting parents huddled in some bushes, then returned for another chick. At least a couple of cars stopped and the drivers asked if I was injured, as I must have presented quite a sight, lying full length on the pavement (thankfully it wasn’t a busy road), reaching into a storm drain hole.
About the time I grasped the last one, a reporter from the newspaper arrived, taking pictures and asking questions. Several chicks raced away from where we’d put them, and made a dash into the road. Catherine and I gave chase, recapturing our prizes and bringing them once more to safety with their clucking, happy family.
A city works employee arrived (called by the kind woman at the newspaper office) after the excitement was over. A dozen lives saved and a good day, all in all!