Cloud cover turned every attempt at a bird photograph into a silhouette. The noisy Common Grackles at the top of a Cypress Tree, the Red-shouldered Hawk at his sentry post on the big Oak near the boat ramp, a Little Blue Heron atop a Willow Tree scolding me loudly. Aren’t there ANY birds on the ground this morning?
Zen birding. As we rounded a curve, the road ahead was covered in American Robins. They were in the road, along the side of the road in the grass, in the shrubs and in the trees. I counted 75. Fueling up for their upcoming spring flight northward, the colorful thrushes were fun to watch gorging on insects and fruits of the Brazilian Pepper.
(The Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) was introduced into the United States in the mid-1800’s as an ornamental plant. Its bright red berries have been used as Christmas decorations. The fruit ripens in December and is eaten by birds and many mammals. The resulting dispersion of seeds by wildlife is one of the reasons it has been such a successful and frustrating invasive plant.)
Moving slowly along the road, the Robins scarcely noticed our presence. Within the dense foliage and fruit of the Brazilian Pepper, we realized not all the diners were Robins!
Cedar Waxwings! We had been hoping to see some in our backyard all winter but no luck. Now here were over four dozen of the sleek, masked beauties right in front of us. The next 30 minutes were very satisfying!
The Cedar Waxwing is named for one of its favorite food items, cedar berries, and for the red markings on the tips of mature birds’ wings which resembles drops of sealing wax.
Chaos in the bushes! It seemed as if the very branches were alive as dozens of Waxwings and Robins stuffed their beaks with fruit.
They will soon be headed back to their breeding areas and we will miss these handsome masked invaders until next fall.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!