Waxwings, “Just stopping by.”

Not a feather out of place.
Not a feather out of place.

The wandering nomadic flocks of Cedar Waxwings are always a pleasure to see. I usually hear them before I see them, their trill, high-pitched calls signaling their presence, either flying overhead or perched above in some tall tree staging for an assault of a nearby fruiting tree or shrub. Hearing high-pitched sounds is not as easy for me as it once was, so it was by sight that I first became aware of a flock here at the Museum last week.

The birds were flying to and from loblolly pines to a group of red cedar trees next to the Sail Boat Pond in Catch the Wind. They were laying bare the fruit of the cedars, as waxwings are known to do. The flocks spot a likely source of fruit, holly berries, Pyracantha, or fruit laden cedar tree, assault the tree or shrub for however long it takes to render it fruitless, then fly off to find a new source of berries.

I photographed the berries of this same group of cedars for a display case in Explore the Wild during late Fall of last year. The trees were loaded with fruit.

A close shot of the cedar, or juniper, berries,  from November.
A close shot of the cedar, or juniper, berries, from November.

There were about a hundred waxwings in the flock. What follows is a dozen photos of some of the birds as they flew in to perch on a nearby tree or hunt for berries.

It's hard to beat a waxwing for elegance.
It’s hard to beat a waxwing for simple elegance.
.
.
.
.
Eyeing the bird below.
Eyeing the birds below.
Some of the bird took advantage of the spillage from above.
Some of the birds took advantage of the spillage from above.
.
With just a hint of the red waxy tips on the bird’s secondaries.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Later that afternoon, the birds were gone.

Enjoy!

4 responses to Waxwings, “Just stopping by.”

  1. Avatar
    jpo says:

    A lovely, crisp shot Greg! I once kept a Cedar Waxwing in my freezer which had flown into a window and killed itself. I would take it out of the freezer from time to time to marvel at it’s perfectness.

    • Greg Dodge
      Greg Dodge says:

      Why, thank you Judy!
      I’ve never been in an area where I would be likely to see them molt, but I can’t imagine them looking scruffy even at that time of year.

  2. Avatar
    Rhonda says:

    Last spring a large flock of these lovelies enjoyed several meals from the evergreens outside our office window. It was delightful to watch them swarm and flitter and take turns on the branches for a few days. Then they flew on their merry way. I agree with you Greg; their feathers are so smooth they appear too perfect, almost like a wax figure from Ripley’s Believe It or Not. But I understand that the term waxwing comes from the red “seal” on the tip of their feathers.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.