my new molting friend

8.22.21 ~ molting blue jay during Hurricane Henri

At about 4:00 pm the storm started up again, but with lighter rain and wind. I guess it was the eye of the storm we went through. My daughter called from North Carolina and while I was talking to her the blue jay came by for a third time today. This time I put down the phone and picked up the camera and then got back to Larisa, who completely understood her distracted mother.

Turns out the reason my new friend looked so bedraggled is that he is molting!

He seemed happy to pose in one of the arborvitae trees. Then I remembered an experience I had with a blue jay over a decade ago. It had appeared and called outside my window just before I got an unexpected tornado warning. I wrote a post about that here: my first tornado warning!

When my sister called, a little after my daughter had called, I told her about the new blue jay story. To Beverly it was obvious, our mother was looking out for me again. Our mother’s nickname was BJ and she had made the same connection back then in 2010. (Beverly got her own bird visit recently. A cardinal built a nest in our mother’s andromeda bush outside her kitchen window.)

rain from Hurricane Henri

We never lost power and the weather is much calmer. I decided it was safe to take some chicken out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge for supper tomorrow. Since I woke up at 3:30 this morning I’m feeling tired and ready for bed after all the day’s excitement. Good night, dear readers! Thank you so much for all your lovely comments today! 💙

32 thoughts on “my new molting friend”

  1. Thank you Barbara for you stories. I always wait for them to come. They give me good feelings and the peace of mind.

    1. Thank you so much for reading, Svetlana, and for leaving such a lovely comment. It gives me a warm feeling knowing you’re there! 💙

  2. I’m glad Henri turned out to be milder than originally feared (and hyped), but we have to pay attention whenever there is a perceived risk. We can’t NOT prepare and worry overselves silly, ha!
    From the net: “The blue jay is seen as a symbol of many things, including one’s spiritual guide or guardian angel and the power to find answers in life when we ask for guidance from a higher power.” I think you and your sister may be on the right track. 🙂

    1. Better safe than sorry when preparing for these inherently unpredictable storms. It always fascinates me how some people are foolishly dismissive, others are hysterically panicked, and most take reasonable precautions.

      Thanks for the info on the blue jay symbolism. You know, it’s funny the more I think about it. My mother thought blue jays were bullies, always crowding the smaller songbirds off her bird feeder. Some of my earliest memories are of her rapping on the window to chase them away from the feeder, which was right outside the dining room window. 🙂

      1. They are bullies, but ‘the gang’ as I call them blow in only twice a day, feed and then leave. The few that are intermittent visitors through the day aren’t that disruptive, so at least the other birds get a chance to feed. I’ve noticed that some chickadees and woodpeckers aren’t cowed by their bluster. 🙂

        1. I used to have a suet feeder hanging on my balcony which a red-bellied woodpecker thought he owned. The chickadees would politely wait below and glean the seeds that fell out of the suet and onto the balcony. The blue jays came around but didn’t stay long unless we put out peanuts-in-the-shell for them. 🙂 Then they would announce breakfast to the “gang” and they’d all make quick work of the peanuts before disappearing again.

  3. So glad you didn’t lose power. Storms are exciting when they don’t cause you any trouble. Very cool about the blue jay looking out for you. A comforting thought.

    1. Your comment reminded me of a quote I love about the excitement of storms:

      “Our ancestors spoke to storms with magical words, prayed to them, cursed them, and danced for them, dancing to the very edge of what is alien and powerful – the cold power of ocean currents, chaotic winds beyond control and understanding. We may have lost the dances, but we carry with us a need to approach the power of the universe, if only to touch it and race away.”
      ~ Kathleen Dean Moore (Holdfast: At Home in the Natural World)

      The blue jay was indeed a comforting presence during this storm.

  4. – and we also know that animals will pick up on storms and other nature-ocurrings before humans 🙂 I love that little bird, and the connection you have to Nature

    1. The blue jay came by again this morning, what a joy! When he’s done molting I wonder if he will keep coming and if I will even recognize him. Maybe by his unusual calls… 🙂

    1. I just found an article online: “If the Blue Jays are Bald, It Must Be August”
      Well, that explains a lot 🙂 Thanks for checking up on me, Linda. 💙

      1. I had thought it might have been a young blue jays too because I saw some last Summer and they were more gray than blue … the birds and their molting. It takes a toll on them. I had two male canaries – feathers everywhere, no tail and they don’t sing the entire six-week period and it takes a long time for them to get back into singing again as they are so listless and lethargic from the molt.

        1. Six weeks is a long time to be so miserable, poor little canaries! I’m hearing the blue jay whistle again this morning, maybe he’s having a hard time with his molt, too.

          1. Yes, I had them at different times – they were miserable and would hop from one perch to the next and the feathers would fly all over, into the seed cup, water cup – poor thing. My mom and I made a recording of each of them singing and would play it to encourage them to start singing again. Your blue jay has established a connection with you – he is not the usual strong-willed and dominant personality you usually see due to his molt. I think that is great that he is getting so friendly right now.

          2. I hear my blue jay whistling this morning but I haven’t spotted him yet… Getting ready for the heat wave… Sigh…

    1. You’re welcome, Debbie! It seems like I learn something new about nature every day. There are some good things about the internet. 😉

  5. I’m so glad Henri wasn’t more ferocious. Molting birds are odd looking creatures (they probably think we’re odd, even if we don’t molt).

    1. I’m sure they do wonder about our strange-looking and ever-changing “feathers” and our unusual vocalizations and activities. The curiosity is mutual. 🙂

    1. Thank you, my friend. 💙 Hope your weather has been blissfully uneventful over there in your neck of the woods.

    1. Thank you, Donna! 🙂 My blue jay seemed unusually amenable to posing for pictures in his less-than-gorgeous molting condition. Maybe a lesson in finding beauty everywhere…

  6. You taught me a new word! Molting. I didn’t know birds shed their feathers. I have been noticing feathers I the grass and I thought the cats were having their way with the game of chase. After reading your post! I noticed that it was snowing small white feathers and I knew what it was! I have several families of morning doves living in my old oak trees in the front of my home. Blue jays do not live in this area. This particular friend of yours is certainly a guardian angel. Very sweet post!

    1. Thank you, TD! No blue jays?!? They are so common and plentiful around here and, now I see from a range map, they populate the eastern half of the country. I had no idea they weren’t to be found everywhere. They, along with northern cardinals, are welcomed bright spots of color in our dreary winter landscapes. It’s funny I never noticed them molting before, but then again, I don’t get out of the house much in August.

  7. Sorry about the typos in previous comment, Barbara. I’ve been watching the gradual development of hurricane Ida for a week. Today I have been watching live TV coverage from my cell phone out of New Orleans on hurricane Ida as I have family living there and ancestry buried in the above ground tombs. Interesting that hurricane Ida hit the racy same day as Hurricane Katrina sixteen years ago.

    1. Oh dear, I do hope your family living in the path of Hurricane Ida are all safe. What a catastrophe! It’s astonishing the destruction we’re seeing on TV. I can’t even begin to imagine the intensity of a category 4 hurricane. Hurricane Bob, which we talked about earlier, was a category 2, and that was more than frightening enough…

  8. Barbara, I so enjoyed this lovely kinship with the bluejay and the messages the birds can bring to us. The molting blue jay seems to have a humble look (which isn’t often how we see jays), and the cedar leaves and berries are exquisite. I’m off to check out your intriguing tornado-warning post. Always a joy to be here, Barbara.

    1. It does seem that when feathers are missing the blue jay’s bravado disappears, too. It must be very humbling to be caught in a big storm without the correct rain gear. 😉 Those arborvitae seed cones attract some interesting birds, we’ve had visits from pine siskins and house finches. Thanks so much for stopping by, Jet!

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