It was the first snowy day we’ve had since spring. Things were very slick and we chose to stay home today. We did make an attempt to go to Quaker meeting this morning, but turned around part way there, deciding that the roads were just a bit too slick to travel on. Judging from the lack of traffic on the roads we were not the only one that made the decision to stay home. We will have snow for much of the winter, but for most of that time it is a cold dry snow that does not present much of a danger. It is only during the fall and spring when we get wet snow that it’s dangerous. Yesterday the world was still green, but not today.
I was in the kitchen this morning when I saw a jay fly by the window. The official name is the Canada jay (Perisoreus canadensis). More commonly they are called grey jays, camp robbers, or whisky jacks. A very widely distributed bird, they are intelligent and either brave or foolish depending on who you ask. If you find one you are almost always going to find at least one other. They tend to travel in either pairs or groups of three, either a mated pair, or a mated pair and one of their offspring that has stuck around.
Today they found our compost bucket on our front porch. We had roasted squash the other day and the seeds and pith ended up in the compost on the porch. Who knew that jays loved squash so much. I took my camera and sat on the porch on and off throughout the morning and afternoon watching them fly in and feed. They are greedy little birds. They’d fill their stomachs and then stuff their mouths with as much as they could hold before flying off to stash the extra somewhere before returning for more.
At one point several robins came by. Observing the jays feeding they did check out the bucket making several flybys, but must have found it a bit too intimidating. I was sitting on the porch when they showed up, about eight feet from the bucket. The jays did not seem to mind and ignored me, but not the robins. Instead they sat in the surrounding trees for a few minutes before flying off to find food elsewhere. Unlike the jays it is not all that common to see robins during the winter. Most migrate. There are a few that remain, but last winter I only saw them one or two times. It was a rare enough occurrence that the first time I asked the online Alaskan birding community if it was normal. I got a couple responses saying they are not common but some do stick around and there were several others who reported seeing them last winter as well.
I don’t know how many birds were feeding on our porch today. At one point there were four; they flew off and then a bit later two came in and fed for a while. After they left three more came in. It could have been the same birds, but I suspect it was actually several small groups. Maybe they sent out the word that there was good food at the Lotze house, but however it happened, there was a steady stream of birds throughout the day. There would be a break for a while and then they would come back for a mouthful or two. I observed them on about 5-6 occasions but since I was not watching constantly I’m sure they were buy many more times.
Jays are a fun bird to watch, they tend to interact with each other and ignore any observers unless you have food they think they can steal or beg from you. They may not be colorful like yellow warblers, or majestic like the great horned owls, but they are insatiably curious and that curiosity is always evident in everything they do.