Strong Feather

By Mark Hopper

I have probably written about this in the past, but I was reminded of it again when my wife and I were in Arizona recently.


My wife and I grew up in the Phoenix area in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  We actually met during our freshman year at Scottsdale High School.  We have many fond memories of Arizona and it is nice to go back to visit family members and reconnect with old friends.


Early one morning, I went for a walk along some green belts that meander through the neighborhood where we were staying.  These tree lined concrete trails are perfect for bicycles and casual walkers.


These paths are peaceful and relaxing teeming with birds and other wildlife as they enjoy these shady areas too.  The desert Doves sing in the early morning and there are usually cotton tail rabbits enjoying the abundant grass.


Other people get up early to enjoy the cooler morning air and take their pets for a walk before it gets too hot.  Daytime temperatures were over 100 degrees when we were in Arizona. One day the temperature reached 109!


My favorite sight to see on my early morning walks was the Gamble Quail.  They are very graceful with their slim size and red top knot on their head.  One morning, I saw a mommy Quail escorting 2-3 small babies as they crossed the path in front of me. I think they were looking for breakfast.  Those little ones looked so tiny but they kept up with their siblings as their mother watched over them.


One of the reasons I love the desert Quail is because my father wrote a book about a family of Quail in Scottsdale.  When he jogged along the canal bank years ago, he observed the activity of a covey of Quail near a horse corral.  The Quail were always busy in the early morning and early evening, but they sought shade and shelter from the hot desert sun during mid-day.


His book is titled, “Strong Feather – The story of the last Covey in Indian Bend Wash”. Strong Feather is a young Quail who goes from childhood games to leading the covey to safety as urban sprawl threatens his family’s survival.  Children and adults enjoy the adventures of Strong Feather and his fellow Quail.


Radio personality Paul Harvey actually featured the book at the end of one of his daily broadcasts. Paul Harvey shared that when he was in the 3rd grade, his teacher read a few pages from a good book at the end of every school day.  He liked “Strong Feather” so much that he said, “Every third-grade teacher must share this book with her last class of the day”. I agree!


Whenever my wife and I see a Quail, we think of my dad.  He worked as a writer for several newspapers, UPI and a large bank in Phoenix.  His typing skills transferred well into being a telegraph operator in World War Two. He was a writer at heart. Maybe that is why I am still writing today. It must be in our family’s DNA!


Next time you see a Quail in your travels, I hope it will put a smile on your face.  If you need a good book to read to your children, you might look on line or at your local library for a copy of “Strong Feather” by Richard Hopper.  You will be glad you did and I will too!


Pastor Mark Hopper

Efree Church of Diamond Bar

3255 South Diamond Bar Blvd

Diamond Bar, CA 91765

Sunday services: 9:00 & 10:45 AM