"Quail: verb (intr.)- draw back in fear, as at the approach of a vehicle, then heedlessly run back into the road, repeating this action approximately a dozen times."
Okay, fine, I made up the last bit- but that's what the word should mean. Quail have got to be the stupidest birds on the face of the planet. I'm quite sure their internal dialogue goes something like this: "Oh, oh, oh, a car! Oh, let's run to the side of the road! Oh, no, let's run to the other side of the road! Oh, that's not a good idea, is it, is it, is it? Let's run to the side of the road! Oh, the other side! This side! That side! Oh..." Multiply that by three dozen, and that's about the only explanation I can come up with for the behaviour of those fearsomely, perhaps even frivolously, foolish fowl. That I didn't leave a number of quail pancakes in the road by my house yesterday is due to sheer luck, or perhaps my exaggerated sense of not-wanting-to-flatten-something-alive-under-the-wheels-of-my-car, so I step on the break rather than run over them. It's quite likely I frustrated at least one of the flock in a suicide attempt. Chicken-with-its-head-cut-off is nothing to Quail-in-its-perfectly-healthy-state. Maybe we should invent a few new phrases for the English language: "I was so startled I ran around like a quail by the side of the road," or "He's just quailing around in that job."
Rumour has it that those birds are quite tasty, though. Perhaps next time I shouldn't step on the break, and try a new dish for dinner? Oh, that's evil. Especially as the little baby quail (are they called chicks? Probably.) are so darn cute, quailing around after their momma ("Queenie, no, dear, don't go calmly walking to the side of the road and stay there! What if car comes by? Quentin, back into the road, off you go! Shoo! Another three times, that's a good boy!"). I couldn't, I just couldn't. But if someone wants to serve me up some roast quail sometime, I wouldn't be averse to trying a bite or two (or three, or...). There has got to be a good reason why the People of Israel nearly got themselves wiped out in the desert for the sake of those plump little critters in their roasted state. And I'm not thinking Quail McBuckets, and made by no colonel, neither.
Ah well. I probably won't get to taste the flesh pots of Egypt any time soon. I'll have to stick with the leeks and onions, they don't go quailing around by the side of the road when I come driving by.