Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Waxwing Swirl

We seem to be a major waystation every year for migrating cedar waxwings. This morning I walked out to the garden, and found myself surrounded by perhaps a hundred of these beautiful, masked birds, swirling in the bright sunshine in a restless melee, gorging on wild berries. It was exhilarating seeing them in such numbers, and realizing that they will not stop until they arrive in the forests of Central America... a yearly voyage this species has made for thousands of years. I am humbled that our little valley is a modest oasis for this great annual migration.
While the waxwings shown here all have the typical yellow tailfeathers, apparently some waxwings are showing up with orange tailfeathers, due to the pigment of the berries of the Tatarian honeysuckle (an introduced and invasive honeysuckle, which the waxwings are feeding on in these pictures). If the waxwings feed extensively on these red berries during the time their tail feathers are growing, the feathers may become orange instead of yellow.
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You DO possess a plethera of unusual facts and information! But I am most envious that the waxwings stop there, as I hardly ever see them here... esp. at this time of year! (I'm going to continue working on plantings that might entice them, however. Then you can point a directional sign my way!) ;-)
Beautiful, Don. We usually have a flock of waxwings visit every winter, but no sign of them here just yet.
Don, I don't think I've ever seen one of these gorgeous birds, let alone here in the city. You certainly must have the magical combination of food sources for them to encourage them to visit. Good for you!
Shady... they are headed your way this morning!

Nancy... I'm always surprised how many stop off here each year; must be several hundred.

IVG... it's the berries!

I have a wild little berry bush/vine that just started coming up, so I put up a trellis in the hopes that by next year it will be tall enough that the berries will attract the waxwings. You are lucky!
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