Update on Penny the Quail, or The Adventures of Penny the Quail in Chicagoland

It's a big world for a little quail.

You’ll all no doubt recall the little quail who found me on May 8 (See my May 9 post). Well, Penny has made a home for herself here, despite her eating habits.  Continue reading to learn more about that!

Medical News

Penny is doing quite well, and her feathers on her back are growing in nicely! She was treated for a liver infection, and I think we’ve got that under control.The vet said that the lump on her back was her spine, which is twisted, probably due to malnourishment as a chick.

Note: I had a bit of an aspiration pneumonia scare while giving her meds from a syringe. I ended up soaking the meds into a tiny bit of feed, letting it dry, then seeing that she ate it all before feeding her more.

Penny contemplates the world from three stories up. The feather loss on her rump is quite clear in this shot, taken right after I got her (or after she found me).


Given her behaviors (scratching furiously and fluffing her feathers and wings repeatedly while sitting down), I figured she wanted to dust. Then one day, while  looking out the window, she spied the dirt in my potted basil plant and took a dive into it!

So I took the hint and headed out to find dirt. I didn’t want potting soil – too many additives – so I headed into Schauer’s Hardware in River Forest and asked for dirt, not potting soil, just dirt. The guy behind the counter said, “Oh, you want topsoil? Well, we have a 40-lb bag in the back.”

“No,” I said, “that’s too much. I have a pet quail, and I want it so she can take a dustbath.”

It took a bit for that to register, but the look was priceless. “Aww, that’s the cutest thing I’ve ever heard! We’re gonna put it on Facebook!”

I guess cute has its moments. They sent me home with a free partially opened bag of topsoil. I made the quail a dirt box. Penny was elated.

You can see that Penny's feathers are growing in nicely.

I’ll have the greens salad, please.

Penny is becoming quite the connoisseur of houseplants. I looked over one day to find her under the peace lily. She had snipped off a whole leaf, and it lay between her feet, a large verdant trophy. She looked up at me as if to say, “Honest, Mom, it just fell off.” I’ve moved the peace lily to higher ground and bought a cage for my little salad connoisseur, but the prayer plant also came under fire. (Good thing the dieffenbachia is out of reach – it’s toxic to birds.)

Penny's quail condo with dirt box veranda

So I got the hint and bought her parsley. She was elated. Then the fatal error occurred –  I gave her Romaine lettuce. It’s now her favorite. If I dare put parsley in her dish, I get a look that’s somewhere between disdain and ennui, but closer to disdain. Romaine earns me the quail version of the happy dance, which is endlessly entertaining. Seriously. I have friends over, and we watch it and crack up laughing. Needless to say, I don’t have cable.

World’s Luckiest Quail Gives Back

Since she now had a cage, a dirt box and topsoil, and greens salad, Penny decided to give back. She was quite antsy for about an hour one afternoon, then suddenly quieted down. I looked over a few minutes later, and there lay a lovely little speckled egg! I’m saving them until I get a dozen. Maybe that will give me a decent omelette.

Quail eggs with chicken egg for size

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Betsy C on June 11, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    How adorable! I love the pictures of her on the window sill….she is really a sweetie! How did she like having roosters in the house? Is she cock a doodle dooing?


    • Thanks, Betsy! Yes, I love the window sill pix!
      The boys are LONG gone – and no crowing was involved!
      Penny is kind of oblivious to other avians. She’s unapologetically quail.


  2. Posted by Rick on September 9, 2010 at 1:50 am

    Did you ever think of using Chinchilla dust? Maybe next time.


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