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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Mar 6, 2012

More Snow = More Bohemian Waxwings

The Branch of a Fruit Tree

I hadn't planned on going out today, because it was snowing.  But it stopped about midday and the sun came out, finally.   We've been getting a lot of snow this past week, just like last year at this time, and just like last year, more snow equals more Bohemian Waxwings, much to my delight.  No doubt that is because there are a lot of fruit trees in my neighborhood, as well as a couple of forested areas where they can roost.  Bohemian waxwings love to eat fruit in winter.  In fact they will eat it almost exclusively.  They will often eat so much fruit that are known to become intoxicated.

Bohemian in profile
Bohemian Waxwing
When I left my house I spotted a fruit tree that had an abundant amount of fruit still dangling from every branch.  I took a couple of photos of it, because it looked pretty contrasted again the blue sky.   Then I headed down the street, very conscious of all manner of bird song coming from every direction.

Small flock in the fruit tree
coming in for a landing
I didn't hear the Bohemians until I had walked several blocks.  There is no  mistaking their high pitched peeps and whistles.  Despite the fact that under normal circumstances a waxwing's voice doesn't carry far, when there is a large flock they make a lot of noise.  At first I heard more than I saw, but then a small  flock of Bohemian Waxwings took to the air.

Arriving and taking off
Startled into flight
When I got closer to the area where they took off, I realized that every single tree was occupied with 30 to 50 Bohemian waxwings, if not more.  Many were well hidden amongst the branches of the pine trees they occupied.  Those pine trees being the staging area for their war with survival.

They would take off and return in waves.  Those that arrived in the tree tops, busied themselves eating the snow blanketing the branches to quench their thirst.  Those that left were in pursuit of fruit.  They all seemed to be heading to, and returning from the same direction, which was back to where I live.  I took dozens of photos and then headed back.

Reaching for the fruit
Plucking the fruit
When I reached the point where I was almost back to the fruit, I stopped to listen  to a couple of chickadee's, hoping to see them.   Two things happened next, a vehicle passed by me at speed and a large flock of birds took off from the fruit tree directly behind me.  When I turned to look I noted that there were a few hardy Bohemians still perched in the tree and that the waxwings had managed to strip the tree of much of it's fruit in the half hour that I had been gone. 

A Close up
Set for Take off
I managed to get a few photos before another vehicle moved past,  spooking the majority of the birds into flight once again.  This happened several times over the next few minutes.  My best guess is that those who remained are either very determined to feast on the fruit, or are used to traffic sounds.

Stripped bare of fruit

Injured bird
Unfortunately a bus went by next startling the birds so badly, that one flew into the window of the house directly behind the fruit tree.  It struck the bay window with an audible thump. The poor bird struggled to fly to another tree nearby, but was injured enough that when all the other waxwings took off, it stayed on the branch on which it had landed, one wing drooping slightly and breathing hard.  It did not react to anything at all at this point, not my presence nor the sound of the traffic. 

I stayed and watched it helplessly for a few minutes, but there was nothing that I could do, when it was perched some five feet or more above my head, unless it fell.  It didn't, and I headed home hoping it was merely in shock; knowing that it was easy prey for any number of predators if it wasn't.  When I checked a little while later, the waxwing was gone.



  1. Beautiful photos Susan!

  2. A great post Susan! I'd love to have so many Waxwings nearby.