Sometimes Quinn wished she could be just like all the other bobwhite quail that lived on the farm in Pennsylvania. She looked the same as the other bobwhites. She had the same chestnut brown wings her brothers did and the same white chest her sisters did. She even liked to eat the same acorns her momma did. But there was one way Quinn was different than all the other bobwhites.
Quinn couldn’t sing.
Every day she tried, and every day she failed. Everyone knew bobwhites were supposed to sing. Their songs were so famous people had named them “bobwhites” because of their special call. One short note; one long note. “Bob-white!”
But not Quinn. She couldn’t make a peep.
“Come on, Quinn,” Momma called. “It’s time for breakfast.”
Quinn hurried behind her momma out into the field. The farmer had been busy all day yesterday harvesting the grain, and there were leftover pieces lying around just waiting to be munched on! She picked a spot right next to the tall grain the farmer hadn’t cut yet.
While they ate, Quinn listened to her brothers and sisters sing and chatter back and forth across the field. She usually enjoyed being part of such a big family, except when they were all singing. Then, she just felt lonely.
She stretched her beak down to the ground to snatch another bite of grain when she heard the shot! Hunters! She ducked into the tall grain. She saw her brothers and sisters dash for the sky.
Terrified, she watched as one by one, her family disappeared from site. She wanted to call, “Please don’t leave me behind!” She opened her beak, but nothing came out.
Then they were gone. They had escaped the hunters. But now Quinn was alone.
What could she do? She looked around. There was plenty of food. She could probably stay where she was until the hunters left.
But that meant staying in the field alone—maybe even after dark. What if a hawk or an owl found her—or a skunk?
“Think, Quinn, think,” she told herself. What was she supposed to do when she was scared?
A Bible verse her momma taught her came to mind. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”
Her mother always taught her to trust God to take care of her when she was scared. But would He remember one little quail who couldn’t sing?
What should she do?
She had to know if the hunters were gone. She stood very still and listened. She heard footsteps. They were still out there.
She waited and waited some more. Minutes passed—maybe even hours. Her legs were so tired from standing perfectly still she didn’t think she could bear it for one more minute.
That’s when she realized she didn’t hear the hunters any more. If she could make it across the field to her family’s emergency shelter, she might be OK.
She shook one leg out, then the other. One step at a time, she started across the field. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot.
Quinn walked for what felt like miles. She wondered if she was still walking in the right direction. All of a sudden—she ran right into something! She opened her beak to cry out, but that’s when the creature stopped her.
“Shh! Don’t make a sound. The hunters are still nearby.”
Quinn closed her beak. The creature she’d run into was another quail from a neighboring family.
“I’ve got to get back to my family,” Quinn said.
“You can’t go anywhere right now. By the time the hunters leave, the owl that lives nearby will be looking for something to eat. We can’t move and we can’t make a sound. We’ll go home in the morning.”
A new thought burst into Quinn’s mind, and thinking it surprised her almost as much as running into her neighbor had.
If she had been able to call out to her family when they started to fly away, the hunters might have gotten her. If she’d called out just now when she ran into the other quail, they both could have been spotted.
Could it be that God knew what would happen today and didn’t give her a song like the other quail to keep her safe?
It was going to be a long night, but she didn’t mind the quiet. She had a lot to think about.
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