The baby quail is safely rescued | Credit: Julia Springer

First responders are often seen at Valle Verde retirement community for medical emergencies, but on a recent Saturday afternoon, an officer with City Animal Control appeared with a crew from the City Fire Department for a different kind of rescue.

Valle Verde resident Julia Springer was headed out on an errand with her husband, Jerry, when he noticed a mother quail pacing frantically back and forth on a drain cover at the end of the parking area.

[Click to enlarge] Just another day in the life of a city animal control officer as baby quail huddled together in the bottom right corner of the drain hole. | Photo: Julia Springer

“Jerry and I had been watching her for days with her handsome scouting husband and brood of babies,” Springer said. “He got out of the car to look and came back to report that the entire brood had fallen into a three-foot-deep drain hole.”

They tried to move the grate, but it was very heavy and firmly fixed in place. “We knew we needed more help — a lot more help,” Springer said. All the while, the father quail stood nearby, “Shouting directions,” said Springer wryly: “‘Deet-deet, deet-deet.’ Typical man.”

After making calls to a variety of animal rescue services to no avail, Springer and her neighbor, Parm Williams, were finally able to reach the Santa Barbara Police Department’s emergency weekend number.

The team from City Fire Station 5 on Modoc Road and a city animal control officer came to the rescue of a family of quail at Valle Verde | Credit: Julia Springer

Animal Control Officer Debra Aguayo-Russell came to take a look and immediately called City Fire for help. A full crew from the Modoc station soon arrived — one of them the grandson of a Valle Verde resident. Using a long crowbar to prize the grate up and out of its frame, the three firefighters moved it away, careful to avoid letting the heavy steel cover tilt into the hole and squash the babies.

The mother quail hovered in the agave, sometimes right next to the firefighters as they levered the metal covering upward. “She wasn’t about to let anything happen to those babies,” said Springer.

Down in the hole, about a dozen babies scurried in and out of the pipes leading from the drain as Officer Aguayo captured each one and handed them up, one by one, to the waiting firefighters.

“This was a different kind of lifesaving service, and the care and thoroughness they used to perform the rescue was amazing,” Springer said. “We are so grateful to them, and I’m sure mommy and daddy quail would express their thanks if they could.”

Springer added that Valle Verde was populated with a lot of wildlife and that she hoped the community would cover the grate with netting to avoid a repeat emergency.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.