Monday, January 3, 2011

Bohemian Waxwing

 This year during the holiday season I did something that I have never done before. That is not easy at my age. On December 26 and January 2, I took part in the St. John's and Ferryland Christmas Bird Counts. This tradition has been carried out by the faithful birders of the Avalon who have maintained great records of all birds seen during this annual bird count.

Being a new, avid bird watcher and an over-indulger during the holidays, it was a great way for me to spend my time, walking (lots of walking) and looking for birds. On the St. John's count my partner and I walked around 10.5 k. That's a good day's work. The walk yesterday was not nearly so long but was often over more difficult terrain. As luck would have it, both days were dry and warm for Newfoundland. This, good company and a mission made both days very enjoyable.

 Last year I kept my eyes peeled for a Bohemian Waxwing. I found numerous Cedar Waxwings but not one Bohemian. My reward for the Christmas Bird Count was to see two new birds: The Bohemian Waxwing and the Wilson's Snipe. Being an evolving "lister," I could hardly wait to get back and enter my new birds on my list.
 This stately Bohemian Waxwing (BW) had all of these Hawthorne Berries to himself. Since these berries are thought to be the natural berry for heart health, this BW may be around for a long time. He can certainly eat from this shrub for quite some time.
 I watched as the BW carefully selected a berry, snipped it from the branch and jiggled until it slid down his throat. I chose this blurred shot to illustrate how the bird shimmies a bit to get the berry down.
 The berry then seems to lodge in the throat until he finishes it off and begins the cycle again.
There are distinct but subtle differences between the Cedar Waxwing and the Bohemian Waxwing. Any bird guide will point out these differences.

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