Valley News – Column: Rowdy jays issue loud seasonal reminder


Posted: 10/30/2021 22:20:12 PM

Modified: 10/30/2021 22:20:12 PM

Walking through the pale green frosty fields in the early morning with two little brown dogs – the LBDs – the girls and I are confused by many little brown birds – LBB to bird watchers – gleaning insects, seeds or fruit on their trip to South.

Unless you see the yellow patch on yellow-rumped warblers or rusty crowns on flocks of familiar little sparrows or see the white-throated bib and cap of the white-throated sparrow or the familiar ridged chest and freckle of our ubiquitous songbird, will mark him as just an LBB.

It’s no longer the soft twitter of colorful males that fills the morning air, but rather the hoarse cries of broad-breasted blue and white jays, corvids that remind me of teenagers gone camping, huddling, arguing, flying with a purpose. straight across the sky from tree to tree in their distinctive heavy body style. Called the bird policemen, they easily alert the community to any intruders, whether it’s a sharp-headed hawk near the bird feeder or an intrepid photographer stealthily crawling for a closer shot.

We know that when we hear the blue jays calling, it’s almost time to turn off the feeders and call out the titmouse, nuthatches, finches and chickadees.

It’s time to clean the porch and take out the houseplants. Jades and figs have gained weight, like every summer, reminding me of the importance of basic work. Geraniums have to descend to the basement window, where they somehow manage to live with almost no care. The succulents are finally able to get inside, where they are recovering from an overwatered summer.

Jays also remind me that it is time to bathe my eyes in the reds of the Virginia creeper and the yellow greens of the hay meadows, because soon everything will be white and gray.

It’s time to take a deep breath in the face of all the flowers still blooming in the yard, hoping to carry this memory through the dry smells of winter.

Trading a daily swim in a clear, clean and always cold pond, with loons nearby, for laps in the local indoor pool puts me in the funk until the jays remind me to smile.

Soon the LBDs and I will be skiing through those same fields with rosy, cold cheeks to the encouragement of the winter birds that never left.

Micki Colbeck, from Strafford, is an artist, conservation biologist and member of the Strafford Conservation Commission. Write to him at


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