Friday, May 21, 2010

Cedar Waxwing

It was in February that I first saw Ceder Waxwings. I have been taken by pictures of them and wanted very badly to get a first-hand look. In February, I had to stay in my car and try not to scare the birds away. That limited the quality and quantity of pictures I could take.

Last week when city birdwatching was slow, I took a jaunt into the Mini Golf Course at Pippy Park. On the road in I noticed birds flying all about. I stopped the car to size it all up. Much to my surprise there was a flock of Cedar Waxwings and American Robins feeding on the remaining, dried-up berries on the trees.

I was able to take some shots from the car window. Then, I parked my car and crept back into the zone. They were still there and not too concerned about me. It made for a great opportunity to look them over, watch their behaviour and take some shots.

These birds are very colorful with a range of colors from bright yellow on the tip of their tail, the pale yellow on their breast, light brown on their neck and head with a raccoon-like mask around their eyes. Their back is grey and brown with white on the wings.

There are usually red tips on the wings but they are not visible in this picture. It is actually from those red, waxy tips that this bird gets its name "Waxwing."

The Cedar Waxwing also has a great, stately crest on the top of its head. Sometimes it seems prominent and other times it lies down
and disappears altogether.

The Cedar Waxwing is extremely agile. It can and does put itself into some unusual positions in order to feed on the berries.  Yet, it remains vigilant, even when eating up side down.

A couple of days after first finding the Waxwings, I went back to the park to see if they were still there. At first there was no sign of them. I walked around the park and found very little bird activity. On my way back to the car, I cut through the children's playground and there they were. They had found another tree laden with berries.

There seem to be a lot of berries left this year.  Of course the story goes that the more dogberries there are - the greater the snowfall for the year. That didn't hold true this year. With the abundance of berries across the province, the Waxwings and Robins had an ample food supply and seem to have taken their sweet time coming to St. John's. Now that they are here, they are cleaning up the remaining supply.

This is one bird that I will never tire of. There is another variety of Waxwing that frequents Newfoundland as well. It is the Bohemian Waxwing. It is similar in appearance but of course, has some significant differences. If I am able to find and photograph one, I will share info about it.

It was on September 11 while birding the Southern Shore of Newfoundland that I came across a juvenile Cedar Waxwing. It was very long and slinky and had not developed its colors yet. Nevertheless, the shape and markings of the bird are clearly a Cedar Waxwing.

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