The Bend Quail Trail – Helping Baby Birds Every Spring

The Cox family creates tiny steps near Tetherow curbs to aid struggling baby quail.

by Yoko Minoura

If a career as a professional soccer player doesn’t work out, 8-year-old Colton Cox said he’d be happy to become a zookeeper or veterinarian when he grows up.

But he and his 10-year-old sister, Bella – who wants to open a dog sanctuary – aren’t waiting until they become adults in order to help animals. Ever since they moved into their Tetherow neighborhood roughly three years ago, they’ve decided to do their part to protect the wildlife that frequents the area.

And while they may not know it, Bella and Colton are also helping Tetherow accomplish one of its cornerstone objectives: to preserve the health and natural beauty of the property.

Every summer, when quail chicks hatch and begin to follow their parents, the siblings put together what has been dubbed the “quail trail.”

“We made little hills on the side of the road for baby quail to get off the road,” Bella said, explaining they make small piles out of pine cones or needles on Meeks Trail that help the chicks scramble from the road onto the curb.

“We make sure they’re off the road, make sure they’re with their parents, make sure nothing attacks them,” Colton added. Their mother, Marianne, said that they have seen scrub jays and other birds prey on the chicks.

And three times a day, every day they’re home, Bella and Colton also head down the street to check the storm drains on either side of Randall Court. Quail chicks are so small they can slip through the grating and become trapped in the drain.

If they spot chicks inside or hear chirping, they fold back the grate covering the drain, and Colton jumps in to retrieve the birds. Bella said an adult bird is usually nearby, and they can release the chicks back into their parent’s care.

“Bella always tries to keep (animals as) pets, but she knows they have to go back to their momma,” Marianne explained. “They both love animals and they always want to stop and help whatever they see.”

The kids likely get their love of animals from their mother; Colton was quick to mention that his mother recently created “Street Dog Hero,” a nonprofit that helps strays from around the world find homes. So far, the organization has rescued dogs from Mexico, South Korea and Texas.

“I’m an animal freak,” Marianne said, and Colton quickly chimed in, “I’m a bigger animal freak.”