Sunday, August 16, 2015

Baby Cedar Waxwings

Last weekend I was at my family's cottage pretending to read when I became distracted by a cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) in flight and chasing a largish insect.  In an impressive effort of determination the bird caught the insect several yards out over the lake.    

But it's mostly their berry-loving that brings them to my backyard.  For the past few days my yard has been visited by a large flock of juvenile cedar waxwings.  This morning a single adult flew in with the juveniles.

They've been attracted to my large pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) bush and, as of last night, had eaten all of the ripe berries.  There are still plenty of unripened berries and this morning the waxwings are back checking for more.  I also have purple berries on my arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) bushes.  I have several arrowwood trees that have mostly had disappointing yields of berry production. Nevertheless, this year there are some small purple berries on a few of the bushes.  I also have some plump berries on a couple of black choke cherry bushes that seem to have interested the birds.   

The running water in my pond-less (inaccurate name for such a moving water contraption because there is a small pond where the falling water collects) waterfall has offered a respite for them.  The past couple of days have been sunny and hot.  The water had become low and warm so I topped it off with some fresh, cool water.  I also keep a standard little cement birdbath full of fresh water for the birds that prefer this.

An adult bird has just flown into my flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) tree, which did not flower this year so has no berries (another disappointing tree in my yard).  If wishing to plant a berry producing dogwood, I recommend pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) which produces plump purple berries around mid-July.  I digress.  Cedar waxwings are such beautiful and, I think, overlooked birds.  I love their flocking, flight-style that makes their identification unmistakeable when they are overhead.  Their distinct lisping call note adds icing to the cake.

A northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) visited this morning, landing on a utility wire in terrible light, and seemed interested in dropping down but thought better of it.  I got three horrible photos before it flew off. The shape and structure of the tail is easily seen.

It's now 11:00 am and things have quieted down since I first came out. In addition to the waxwings and flicker, I've seen blue jays, downy woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch, red-breasted nuthatch, robins, cardinals, goldfinch and ruby-throated hummingbirds.  Earlier, I heard a nearby eastern pewee give an abbreviated call and the distinct rattle of an overhead belted kingfisher.  Not bad for a teeny, tiny urban backyard.  Oh, and I cannot leave out the house sparrows.

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