Cedar Waxwing Season
One of the few benefits of “Cedar Season” around here is the arrival of Cedar Waxwings. While the rest of us are sneezing and hacking due to pollen the Cedar Waxwings are feasting on the juniper berries. (Keep in mind that what we call Cedar here in the Texas Hill Country is actually Ashe Juniper, Juniperus asheii.)
It’s easy to miss the Waxwings because flocks come and go rapidly as they search for berries. It’s not unusual to see only 1 flock in a year and to see that flock for only for a few hours. But it’s a great show if you can catch it.
This year we got lucky. I was walking across the yard, noticed a flock arriving, and grabbed my camera. Here are a few of the shots I managed to get. Thanks to Loretta for some great work in post-production.
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Lucky you! I’ve only had two large flocks come through my immediate area in past years, but they’re like robins: a pure treat when they show up. When I still was in my third floor apartment, there were some palm trees that were just the right height for me to look out into them. One year, the grounds crews had left the flowers, and the trees were laden with fruits. The waxwings came, spent about two days stripping the palm trees of every fruit, and then were gone — but what a time it was while they were there!
Watching a flock of waxwings arrive and picnic on the juniper berries is a highlight of the winter. I wish it was something we could count on seeing every year, but they come and go so quickly that it’s easy to miss and I presume it also has something to do with how good the berry crop is on our property. I had one not very good photo that I didn’t post that is like a “Where’s Waldo” game with waxwings hidden in a tree and one flying out as the shot was taken. It was a real challenge getting decent shots as I was wandering around under the trees and shooting up through dark branches against a bright sky. Thank goodness for digital cameras and the freedom to shoot as many times as you want.
By the way, it looks as though one of the birds on the edge of the water bowl may have an orange-tipped tail rather than the usual yellow. I learned about the difference from the Cornell site a couple of years ago:
“Cedar Waxwings with orange instead of yellow tail tips began appearing in the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada in the 1960s. The orange color is the result of a red pigment picked up from the berries of an introduced species of honeysuckle. If a waxwing eats enough of the berries while it is growing a tail feather, the tip of the feather will be orange.”