nature's best palette - the cedar waxwing

Cedar Waxwing @ Brian sullivan

Cedar Waxwing @ Brian sullivan

I live in a birding paradise it turns out. Lake Como and the wooded areas that surround it is home to multitudes of birds. I’ve found that the early morning walk, around 7am proves to be the best time to experience the variety of calls, sightings and other birders with cameras and dogs in tote.

This morning the calls are overwhelming. I search my brain and try to recognize the songs and chatter that explode in the trees and along the lakeshore. The combination of bugs, water and blossoming trees create the ideal situation to observe.

I find many, many Cedar Waxwings in groups on the branches of young willows. They take flight in a haphazard pattern. Wings flapping individually, rather than in unison like you might see with geese that fly in a direct, arrow-like formation.

cedar waxwing in flight

The Cedar wax wing has bold markings and the they look so soft to the touch. They have a dapper black mask, tinged with white that surrounds their eyes and complements the its crest or the “prominent tuft of feathers on the crown of a bird's head”. It’s mask gives them a look of character and distinction. In contrast, they have the softest looking body with subtle shading, from grays, browns and yellows. You totally want to touch them.

Cedar Bird  - John Jay Audubon

Cedar Bird - John Jay Audubon

Nature is the best painter, drawing you in like that. I wonder if John Jay Audubon noticed this and painted them while trying to achieve this delicious blending of color.

His title for the waxwing is simply “cedar bird”. I am guessing because of their affinity for the berries. Their diet of berries has caused a stir in recent years. When they ripen, the cedar waxwing will gorge themselves and grow drunk from fermentation. The intoxicated creature becomes erratic, flying into windows, sometimes passing out or collide, causing paralysis or death. This activity, I learned is their greatest obstacle in survival.

They are migratory. Visiting Minnesota and other northern states and Canada to breed and to satiate their appetite for berries. They help reseed fruit trees and bushes and travel to Central America and Mexico in the winter months.

I am so inspired by these marvelous birds.

Emily Donovan