Two sharp-eyed passers-by saved a passel of baby quail that fell into a storm drain on June 11.
Merilee Farrell of White Salmon was on her way to Dr. Mark Crompton’s dental office at Sixth and Sherman streets when she heard loud chirping from the street. She went to the edge of the street where she saw a quail family in trouble. She quickly realized that mother and father quail were crying out for their chicks — the plum-sized fluff balls had fallen through the metal storm drain grate, into the catch basin below.
“Over half of the chicks fell in. I think the parents were herding the chicks up the road, not realizing the babies were smaller than the grate holes, and they started falling in,” Farrell said.
“As soon as the mama realized it, she shooed them back, but too late for many of them. She was crying and hovering and circling the grate when I saw her.
“As I watched, two or three more fell in, and that’s when she called City Public Works,” who did respond a few minutes later, said Farrell. She also called the Hood River News.
Farrell flagged down Katherine Sears, who was riding by on her bike, and they were able to raise the grate and save the chicks.
They leaned down into the storm drain to check for extra chicks. The birds they rescued had fallen about 18 inches onto soft material.
Farrell and Sears moved around the street, dragging their feet as several chicks tried to run to the far side. But once the birds met up with a shoe, they tended to sit still, or flit back to the nearest curb. Sears and Farrell then gently picked each one up and placed it under nearby juniper, and the birds disappeared, their parents’ loud chirps beckoning from the green shelter.
“A truck from City Works came after everyone left, and as I was exiting the dentist office, I let him know they were okay,” Farrell said.