I’ve only seen Cedar Waxwings in Vancouver once before. In the snowy winter of 2017 they appeared very fleetingly on a crabapple tree-lined street near us.
One morning in February there was a whole flock — and all gone the very next day.
Ever since, I keep an eye open for them when I walk the dog down that street.
No luck … until this week! I first spotted those little crests, bright yellow tail tips and Zorro masks on Tuesday.
Ironically, we’d wanted to go out to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary that day, but had left it too late to make a reservation. I was, therefore, feeling a bit glum when I set out on the usual walk around the ‘hood — same old, same old …
Just goes to show something or other, because if we’d gone to the bird sanctuary I might never have noticed these rare visitors in our very own backyard.
I went back every day this week, expecting them to have moved on, but they’re still there!
There seems to be at least a dozen of them, with quite a few juveniles in the party.
The young ones have a less defined bandit mask around the eyes and a more speckled appearance than the adults.
The mature birds have a smoother feathers, pinky brown merging into lemon yellow on the lower body. The mask is sharper — and it’s always exciting to spot the waxy red tips on the secondary wing feathers that give them their name.
Cedar waxwings eat mostly fruit — although they won’t say no to some delicious bugs. They eat the berries whole and, apparently, are prone to getting drunk on berries that have started to ferment. Fun as that sounds, it isn’t really, as they then tend to fly into windows and perish.
In fact, a neighbour who lives on this berry-lined street, was just setting up his own system of Acopian Bird Savers for their windows to try and stop this from happening. I have a similar set up on my glass studio doors and it really seems to work!
We’ve had a bit of every sort of weather this week, from pouring rain to strong winds, and back to bright sunshine, and still they remain. I have started to wonder if they might stay for the winter.
This berry cornucopia is popular with all kinds of small birds, so it’s not surprising that it eventually popped up on the local hawk’s radar too.
This morning the crows were making a big fuss and scared up a small hawk — a Sharp Shinned, I think — which finally gave up a flew away, for now.
The trees were very empty this morning, but I noticed a few brave robins and a couple of waxwings were back this afternoon.
So, Cedar Waxwings, are you staying or going?
I guess I’ll just keep checking and be prepared to see them gone — until the next time.
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