We have quails that wander around the parking lot by my office. These are beautiful little birds that scurry along in pairs from the strip of weeds by the freeway wall, across our lot and under the chain link fence to the storage property next to us. Later in the season we slowly drive down the driveway as the parents hurry their offspring across the driveway to the wild strip of land next to us. That wild strip of land is about ten feet wide and about a quarter mile long, it runs between our building and the I-15 freeway. It is home to ferro cats, foxes, skunks, an occasional deer and of course our quails.
One morning when I arrived I noticed one of the quails had been hit by a co-worker’s car. I could see that it was no longer alive as I entered the front door and I resolved to have one of the guys pick it up and put it in the dumpster on the other side of the building. The guys didn’t do it the first day and it was still there the next day but hidden by a wheel of a car. The mate of the quail spent the day wandering the parking lot. She would wander over by the fence to the wild strip, then wander back to the area by the storage property, never coming close to the building as they never had before. She wandered the whole day searching for him only leaving the lot when people exited the building for their cars.
The next morning I didn’t see her when I arrived, but around 10 AM I heard a peeping noise about every 30 seconds. It took me a while to identify the noise, when I finally looked out the window I saw the quail balanced on the top strand of the barbed wire surrounding the storage property, she was calling to her mate then waiting for him to respond. She continued to call the entire day, continuing even as the employees left the office for their cars, each person stopping to notice and grieve for the forlorn bird calling to her mate. The next day I arrived with trepidation, fearing to experience the loss of the small bird further, but she wasn’t there and has not returned since. I marveled at the grief of this small bird and realized love and grief are not solely human emotions.