Plan B. At that point, Ming ran upstairs to get my wife, Pat Whitesides, whom she knew was a knowledgeable birder, to ask for help rescuing the chicks. Together, they contrived a plan. They would play quail sounds on their cell phone to attract the chicks back into the drain where they could be reached and removed. It didn’t work that easily because as soon as the chicks appeared in the drain and saw Pat and Ming waiting for them, they ran back into the drain pipe.
Plan C. Get the chicks into the drain and cover the opening to the drain pipe with a sheet of cardboard to block their escape. It worked partially. Two of the chicks were rescued from the drain, but the remaining chicks wouldn’t come out of the drain pipe.
Plan D. They contacted Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, knowing they take in distressed and injured animals and will care for them. It was already 3:15, and they had to get the chicks to the museum by 4:00, so they made a couple more tries to get the last chick but failed. They took the two chicks to Lindsay and were told that when the chicks could protect themselves, they would be brought back into the Rossmoor area to be released back into the wild.
Plan E. After returning home, Ming continued working to retrieve the remaining chick from the sewer and actually succeeded in retrieving two more chicks. Following the instructions from the volunteer at Lindsay, she placed the chicks in a cardboard box, neither fed them water nor food and intended to take them to Lindsay in the morning. Apparently, those two chicks were too stressed from their long ordeal in the sewer because they died overnight, quite possibly from a heart attack.
In the end, two quail chicks were rescued by the determination and prompt actions of Ming, Una, and Pat. It is worth mentioning that these chicks were possibly only days old, given that they were only the size of golf balls. While Pat had seen baby quail before in Rossmoor, she had never seen them so small. Quail chicks are born to be “precocious,” meaning they can walk and feed themselves almost immediately upon hatching. What they can’t do very well is protect themselves. They needed Ming, Uma, and Pat for that.