A baby blue jay at the Manse, and lessons from my grandfather

Buh and John, March 5, 1966

This is my grandfather, who loved birds and baseball, the late J.A.S. Keay  – “Buh,” to me and my siblings – with my brother John. The photo was taken here at the Manse on March 5, 1966. (Doubtless that visit to my family from Buh and Didi – my grandmother – was to celebrate John’s second birthday, which would have been the day before.) As I was preparing to insert it into this post, it dawned on me that it was taken from almost exactly where I sit as I write. Full circle, people. Full circle.

My late maternal grandfather, J.A.S. Keay, loved birds and spent many happy hours of his life watching them, identifying them, and providing for them with birdbaths and feeders. Though I loved my “Buh” (which is what I christened him as a wee girl, probably because I couldn’t yet pronounce “Grandpa”), I never much cared for birds –until very recently. Now that Raymond and I are at the Manse full-time, I am paying a lot more attention to them, and enjoying every minute of my ornithological discoveries. (It helps to be living in a place as quiet as Queensborough, where birdsong is frequently the only sound one hears when one steps outside.)

This morning I got a big treat when I looked out a front window: there were robins all over the front lawn! I don’t know why they appeared en masse all of a sudden, but can only guess that the temperature has finally got just high enough (and that enough snow has melted) for worms to be reachable by their little robin beaks. I tried to get a photo, but of course they had all flown away by the time I got to the window with my iPhone. Anyway, they were a happy sign of spring.

My subsequent discussion with Raymond about the robins brought on another bird revelation, which was (and if you live here and know about the local birds, please don’t laugh at my ignorance): there are mourning doves! Which explains the gentle whoo-hooing that I hear most mornings when I leave the house and get into the car to go to work. Stupid me – I had thought those whoo-hoos came from an owl who was up a little late. But Raymond told me that there are tons of mourning doves in the vicinity. For some reason I’d never associated that bird with this place; is it possible that their being here in 2014 has something to do with climate change?

Baby blue jay

This isn’t our baby blue jay, but Raymond (who saw it) assures me it is very like. I feel like a proud grandparent!

And finally, a totally delightful thing that happened one morning this week when I was already at work but had to call home quickly: Raymond told me that there was a baby blue jay on our front porch! We have had lots of blue jays eating from our bird feeder this winter, and had suspected that some were nesting in the huge evergreen trees in our front yard. And apparently that was right, because now there is a cute little infant. How nice is that?

Because of their beautiful colour, I have loved blue jays since my grandfather first showed them to me, when I was very small. It has made me happy through this long, cold winter to see them around and about at the Manse. And now, apparently, we have a new generation coming along. And being sociable to boot.

As I have been writing this post this evening, and thinking about birds (specifically blue jays) and my Buh, I have also been thinking about baseball. Because, you see, Buh loved baseball, and was a huge fan of the Toronto Blue Jays. Who are playing their home opener tonight, even as I type. (We won’t talk about their opponents, the Yankees. We live in a Red Sox household.)

I think my grandfather would be very happy to know that I am getting interested in this bird-observation thing. And hey, Buh, this is for you: Go Jays!

2 thoughts on “A baby blue jay at the Manse, and lessons from my grandfather

  1. Mourning doves calls are my favourite sign of spring here on the Black River. My grandson used to call then “goodmorning doves”! What a cute baby blue jay. According to the nesting dates I found this one is way out of season. http://www.ofnc.ca/birding/bbanestdates.html (why oh why did they not list these in alphabetical order, the librarian in me asks!!) I wonder how long it takes a baby blue jay to grow to full size? Is it possible that this is a juvenile from a late hatching last year? Sounds like a Terry Sprague question!

    • “Goodmorning doves” – that’s lovely! As for the baby blue jay, yes, it struck me too that it was quite early for a baby to be on the scene, but Raymond (who’s the one who saw it) assures me that it was indeed a baby and that it was too small to have been from last year. I suspect a shotgun wedding between its parents…

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