Around Christmas several feet of snow fell. On December 26th heavy winds created drifts several feet high. One drift in front of our house was six feet deep.

It took about a month for most of the snow to melt. This week Leonard went out to repair fences damaged by the weight of the snow. As he was shoveling the snow away from a fence near our house (Lookout CA, Modoc County) Leonard noticed a hole on the surface of the snow. It was the top of a cavity about the size of a basketball. Inside he found seven dead California quail (Callipepla californica).

The California quail were buried next to a tangle of wild rose bushes growing along the fence. Rabbits and quail reside under the roses. We speculate that the quail took shelter by the rose bushes as they usually do. However the amount of snow that drifted over them was deeper and heavier than usual and the quail were entombed. Between their movement and body heat a small vacuole was formed. What killed them? Probably they quickly ran out of oxygen under the packed snow. They may have starved over several days. Or the quail, in a weakened state, may have succumbed to the cold. We will never know.

Leonard put the dead quail out in the pasture and by the next morning there was no trace of them. At least coyotes, raptors or some other animal benefited from the demise of the quail.

Mother Nature is not always benevolent.

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4 Responses to Entombed

  1. Lin Erickson says:



  2. tonytomeo says:

    How sad, even if it happened naturally, and there were benefactors. Quail are such nice little birds.


  3. Deanna Jarvie says:

    Sad but also happy ending.


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