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Cedar Waxwings

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
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by Thornius on May 02, 2006 04:34 PM
For the last few days my yard has been invaded by hordes of Cedar Waxwings, often said to be the MOST handsome bird in North America, and I believe that to be true. These birds will NOT come to your feeders so you must look, and ESPECIALLY listen for them. They are berry eaters and I have personally witnessed them eating Holly Berries in early Spring and Mulberries (before I can eat any [Mad] ) in mid-late Spring. They are ALWAYS found in flocks that behave like schools of minnows in the ocean, the flock moving as a single entity rather than individual birds. Their call is ALMOST above the range of human hearing and sounds to humans like, "Ssssssss, Ssssssss" a high-pitched shrill hissing often heard coming from the tree tops. They are call, "Waxwings" because their wings really DO contain wax which appears as a bright red tip on the longest feather of each wing. They are a burnished bronze color with a black mask and a bright yellow band on the tip of the tail. Their heads have a swept-back crest much like a Wood Duck that makes a spike in the back. This spike, coupled with their sharply pointed bill and very flat head give what I think is a pick-axe appearance around the head. Here is a pretty poor but recognizable picture I took this afternoon in my Bradford Pear tree of one of a flock of 5 birds. Note the black mask, Yellow band on the tip of the tail, and Barely visible the pinkish-red spot on the wing which is the accumulation of red wax that is excreted through the wings from the berries that they eat. Go to Google Image Search under Cedar Waxwing for better pictures and to eNature.com to listen to the sound they make.

CEDAR WAXWING
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A bird in the hand......can sometimes be a mess.
by Thornius on May 03, 2006 05:30 AM
Howdy, Folks [wavey] ! Went out on my front porch this morning, and, like usual for the last week, heard the shrill, high-pitched, sizzling call of an enormous flock of Cedar Waxwings. As I type this inside my house I can hear them through the walls of the house. I counted about thirty of them in my biggest mulberry tree in my front yard. Here is a nice group shot that I got.

THE WAXWINGS FAMILY REUNION (Great-Grandma, Cedar, on the right)
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A bird in the hand......can sometimes be a mess.
by Bill on May 03, 2006 05:43 AM
Cedar Waxwings are one of my favorite visitors. Pretty birds!
Hundreds of them arrive in July when the wild cherries are ripe... but then, in a month, they leave as quickly as they arrived.
sigh....

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by plants 'n pots on May 03, 2006 08:03 AM
Very cool looking bird!
Would love to see one up close and personal!

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by Thornius on May 03, 2006 09:23 AM
Quick, Plants 'n pots! Plant some mulberry and holly trees for when they come through your neighborhood this month!

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A bird in the hand......can sometimes be a mess.
by melcon6 on May 03, 2006 10:57 AM
Oh Thorny, how lucky for you, the cedar waxwings are awesome! What a great picture you got of them! [thumb]

This is embarassing because my pics are so bad compared to yours, but could this flock I had the other day be cedar waxwings?

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY CINDY!!!!!!!
by Thornius on May 03, 2006 02:00 PM
Those sure are Cedar Waxwings! [grin] They have a distinctive silhouette. 90 % of the pictures I took of my Cedar Waxwings were worse than yours. At times they can be tricky to photograph and I think my camera is dying, too.

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A bird in the hand......can sometimes be a mess.
by melcon6 on May 03, 2006 02:30 PM
Wow! I'm so excited , there must've been 20 or 30 of them, I was out in the garden taking pics of a little landscaping "issue" and they all flew in , landed on that tree , perched and screeched for maybe 2-3 minutes and then all flew away! I've seen waxwings in the summer at an ocean campground down the road. I forget what my mom said they eat down there, but something attracts them , I'll have to ask her again.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY CINDY!!!!!!!
by Thornius on May 03, 2006 04:14 PM
Waxwings are ALWAYS in flocks! The flocks move like a single organism much like schools of sardines in the ocean. If one bird moves in flight they ALL move in the same direction, at the same time. It is fascinating to watch.

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A bird in the hand......can sometimes be a mess.
by gardenmom32210 on May 04, 2006 12:28 AM
We've had a huge flock of them in the neighborhood for a week or 2 now. They are the neatest birds. Very funny to watch sometimes. I've seen a bunch of them land on a single branch and pass berries back and forth to each other. They do a little bobbing dance as they pass the berry. I've also heard that they will get tipsy from eating too many berries(I guess older fermented berries )
by Thornius on May 07, 2006 06:48 AM
Here is the latest shot of a Waxwing, You can see the swept-back crest, The yellow band on the tip of the tail, and a bit of the black mask. What is not visible is the red tip on the longest feather of the wing. This is due to the angle of the photograph AND to the fact that None of this flock of Waxwings had the red meaning that the red wax that accumulates on the tips of the wings has worn off and has not been replenished yet. I think the red comes from the Holly berries they eat in late-Winter early-Spring. The berries are off the holly now and new flowers on the Holly herald they birth of nest year's crop of berries.

CEDAR WAXWING
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A bird in the hand......can sometimes be a mess.
by Triss on May 07, 2006 07:17 AM
The pics are great but even better is the lesson about what they do and their habits.

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