One day they're there, the next they're gone. It's as if there were a shift-change in the bird world and one crew comes on as another one leaves. I haven't seen a Steller's jay, brilliant blue with a black crest, in ages. Suddenly yesterday one was on the deck rail and driving Ralph bonkers by flying at the window and back. There are still a few, but very few, California jays still in the area. The noisy neighbors, the crows, have pretty much moved on, replaced by huge numbers of smaller blackbirds. Coming back from the barn, I heard a pair of red-tail hawks working the area, and the other night I heard owls hooting on the hunt. With the advent of cold weather, all but a few hummingbirds have moved out. Camille has noticed this, too, at her place. Possibly because there were much fewer acorns this year (probably because of the drought), there were fewer woodpeckers, and now most of them are gone now. While the majority of vultures left in September, thankfully the maintenance crew stayed behind. Ring-tail doves have taken the place of mourning doves. The one constant is the turkeys, who continue to gather at the breakfast stand every morning, making another hopeful pass in the afternoon.
The anthem for the season is a WWI song "Till The Boys Come Home," which begins, "Keep the home fires burning...." I've got to get back in the habit of banking the coals at night so it's easy to get a fire started in the morning. I didn't night before last and once again the house was frigid until well after barn duty yesterday.