Cedar Waxwing

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.

Tenoroc FMA

1/400, f/6.3, ISO6400  Nikon D750, Tamron 150-600 @600 mm

 

(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.

Tenoroc FMA

1/250, f/6.3, ISO4500  Nikon D750, Tamron 150-600 @600 mm

 

Chaos in the bushes! It seemed as if the very branches were alive as dozens of Waxwings and Robins stuffed their beaks with fruit.

20200127 Tenoroc FMA 00190

1/800, f/7.1, ISO2800  Nikon D750, Tamron 150-600 @600 mm

 

They will soon be headed back to their breeding areas and we will miss these handsome masked invaders until next fall.

Tenoroc FMA

1/800, f/7.1, ISO3200  Nikon D750, Tamron 150-600 @600 mm

Tenoroc FMA

1/1000, f/6.3, ISO1100  Nikon D750, Tamron 150-600 @600 mm

 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Cedar Waxwing

  1. David Gascoigne

    Any day with a Cedar Waxwing is a good day, Wally. We saw a small flock yesterday, eating frozen berries. They are resident here and survive the winter without any difficulty. Once every few years they are joined by Bohemian Waxwings, although we are a little too far south to expect them with any degree of regularity. When I lived farther north they were annual visitors.

    • A beautiful bird indeed!

      My wife can hear their high-pitched twittering a mile away while I have to wait for a visual.

      “Bird radar”. She’s good.

  2. Nice work Wally. It’s just superb to see migration in action like that. Our thrushes come through in numbers during autumn and then in spring they rush through and barely stop on their way to Scandinavia. This is an exciting time now with warblers and pipits soon to start. We’ve had no waxwings this year with low numbers even in Scotland. After last summer’s good growing there was lots of food back home for them in Europe. Enjoy the week ahead you both.

    • Thank you, Phil.

      Yes, usually we wave to the migrants as they fly overhead without stopping to say hello. Some of the sneakier ones have the audacity to slip by in the dark of night.

      How are supposed to add to our already voluminous life lists if they won’t land??

      Our mid-week is great! Cool mornings and balmy afternoons. Spring is ready to “spring” upon us.

  3. What an amazing spectacle that must have been, Wally! As you probably know, we sometimes get good years and sometimes bad years for the Bohemian Waxwings – sadly this year has not been a good year so seeing your Cedar Waxwing images is a real treat. All is well here. My best wishes to you both – – – Richard

    • Thank you, Richard! It was a special day.
      Very happy to hear all is well, what with Storm Ciara, bad backs and all.

      Take care you two!

  4. edro123

    Wow, Wally – you got some really good looks at the Waxwings (and great photos too). It’s been a while since I’ve see any and I wasn’t nearly as close as you seem to have been.

    • It was a fortunate morning, Ed.
      I found them along that road and eventually parked a little further along to hike a trail. When I returned, the flock literally was surrounding the car feeding! Pretty cool.

  5. Always a thrill to see. We have the Bohemian Waxwing in Europe which is almost identical. Some winters we see big flocks other winters none depending on food supply in Scandinavia.
    Great set of shots Wally.

    • Thank you, Brian! I think the majority of them keep going to South America but a few overwinter and we see surges in spring and fall.
      Pretty birds at any time!

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