blue jays

A jay walks the metal ridge of the springhouse roof, where a tangled mass of Virginia creeper has stretched red tentacles over the shingles.

A turkey vulture glides low over the trees, circles once to gain altitude, setting off a jay and a squirrel, and soars off down the ridge.

Cold and quiet, with a sky almost as blue as the jays in the treetops. One of them keeps making a rattling sound, as if clearing its throat.

The sky darkens, squirrels and jays scold an unseen threat, a pileated woodpecker makes a histrionic exit. Then nothing. The sky brightens.

A blue jay skulks through the trees at the woods’ edge but still a nuthatch spots him, and within seconds a mob of small birds assembles.

Heard but not seen: two blue jays commenting on the woods below. Seen but not heard: two gray squirrels sneaking under the house.

On a crystal-clear morning, the whinnying cry of a red-bellied woodpecker seems full of angst, and a jay’s rasping call—pure frustration.