Things that should not happen: snow in Northern Virginia before Thanksgiving. And yet here we are. The dusting we had at the beginning of the week is gone, but Thursday produced freezing rain, wet cold, and utter dreariness. Before this all happened, Super Hub and I did some frantic winterizing. Of course, our flock must have individualized everything, so each required his or her own set-up to stay warm.

Gwen & Stephen

Their Corvid Majesties do not approve of heat lamps. I’m not quite sure why, although they do cast a reddish light which may be annoying when you’re trying to sleep. Or maybe they resent the implication that their imperial down coats (aka feathers) are somehow inadequate. They do, however, require a chicken coop heater. Instead of huddling up against it, as peasant chickens do, they perch on it to keep their feet warm.  Birds’ feet don’t freeze in winter because something, something, biology (details here). But apparently that doesn’t mean their tootsies don’t get chilly, a problem G&S have solved by demanding a heated perch. So when it’s cold, they move back into the nesting shelf, hop on their heater, and snooze the night away.


Zen values not leaving his spot of safety above all other things and so is content with a heat lamp in the winter which is the only way to warm up his perch of choice. He doesn’t seem to mind the light too much and will get as close as he can to the heat to get a nice warm night’s sleep.


I’m not quite sure what to do about Snafu. The Internet is irritatingly devoid of useful information about blue jays. Trying to research their tolerance for cold gets the following: “Yeah, blue jays. Sometimes they migrate in winter, sometimes they don’t. No clue why.” Further inquiry reveals: “You still googling ‘blue jay? Look, lady, no one has researched these birds. Yes, they’re everywhere but that’s the point. What about the designation “Least Concern” do you not understand? Can’t you just search for “cockatoo” like any normal crazy bird person?” In short, I’m kind of on my own.

At this point, we have a space heater next to Snafu’s flight cage, which we cover at night to keep in enough of the hot air to increase the temperature. Snafu does not like the fact that this system obstructs his view and is always very anxious to have the heater off and blanket up in the morning. The other option would be to bring him inside, but Super Hub objects on the grounds Snafu takes it upon himself to imitate modem sounds all day which presumably is blue jay for  “wild birds do not belong inside, people!” So, in early December, we are off to consult with Dr. Costanzo. Snafu is due for his annual check-up, which I’ve been putting off since I couldn’t imagine what the vet would be able to do other than say, “yup, that’s a blue jay.” But now I’m hoping he’ll say, “yup that’s a blue jay who can tolerate temperatures down to [insert number here]. I also figure it would be nice to know if Snafu is a he or she, so blood test it is. Lucky bird.