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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Jun 7, 2010

Cedar Waxwing

This weekend was extremely satisfying as far as birdwatching was concerned. On Saturday I went to visit a couple of man made ponds  in the south of the city, where I had some tremendous luck taking pictures once before.  The weather was gorgeous to say the least and I had the delightful experience of having several feathered subjects to photograph.  Of all of these subjects, the Cedar Waxwing was the most illusive.  It is very good at hiding and if it cannot hide, or is startled all of them fly off all at once.  Which is why, before I finally managed to photograph these birds, the whole flock flew off on me twice.

Cedar Waxwing almost hidden
You know that the Cedar Waxwing is in the vicinity by the sound of their high pitched but very quiet whistle.   It is so quiet in fact, that it takes a moment for the sound to register in your conscious mind.   When it finally does register, finding the bird is no easy task, unless the flock happens to be sitting in a highly visible tree top that is relatively bare of leaves, which I have witnessed on one occasion.  If you are really lucky you will witness a flock of Cedar Waxwing descent on a Mountain Ash, or any other fruit bearing tree, or bush, to strip it off it's berries in mere minutes.  It's quite a sight.

Cedar Waxwing in the shadows
However, more than likely you will have to hold yourself very still and literally look behind every leaf and branch in order to catch sight of this illusive bird.  You will have to concentrate on the slightest movement due to the fact that they are very swift, as they move from branch to branch, which makes them even harder to detect.

Two Waxwings
Cedar Waxwings are very much suited to hiding, especially if they stay in shadow, because their backs and necks are a cinnamon brown color and their wings are gray, while their bellies are a pastel yellow, which means they blend in nicely with almost all leaves.   What is most striking about these birds, however, is the black mask that covers their eyes and the red spots near the tip of their wings.  This red spot resembles a drop of wax; hence the name waxwing. They also tend to favor Cedar trees.

Curious Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing perched
Unlike their cousins, the Bohemian Waxwing you will seldom see these birds alone, as they have a tendency to fly in flocks, both in large or small numbers.  In the pictures that I managed to get you will see only one or two of these birds, however there was a whole flock of them present in the same little tree.  Which is truly quite amazing.

The only reason that I managed to spot these birds this time, was because one of the birds was moving opposite in relation to the wind's movement of the leaves.  Needless to say, once I did, I stood very still until one or two of the birds was comfortable enough to actually let itself be seen, and then believe me, I moved very slowly to bring my camera up to take these pictures.

Almost close enough

Beautiful Cedar Waxwing

As you can see this is an incredibly beautiful bird. I only wish I would have gotten a clearer picture of the bright red spot on it's wings, but since I did manage to get a good photo of the bright yellow ribbon on its tail, I probably shouldn't complain too loudly.  An interesting fact here, is that the color at the edge of the Cedar Waxwing's tail might vary depending on it's diet, ranging from yellow to orange.  Their diet consists mostly of berries, sweet fruit, honeysuckle, and insects.  They love the sound of running water, which is likely why they were at this location, since there is a water fountain in each pond.  The Cedar Waxwing's habitat is typically the edge of a forests anywhere in Canada or the US, as well as near rivers and streams, or any place where the trees are spaced somewhat apart, like a golf course or city park.  They are known by two other aliases: cherry bird and cedar bird.

More  information about the Cedar Waxwing can be found at the following sites if  you like:

Also, if you wish to learn about their larger cousin, the Bohemian Waxwing just visit the link below:


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