Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Berry Thieves


The bird watching continues. This day, it's the cedar waxwings that have captured my attention.

At one point, there were nine perched here together.

It's a beautiful bird and right up there with the male and female cardinals on my list of favorites. Until two years ago, I'd only ever seen them in photographs. Then I saw one at Frederik Meijer Gardens.

Last year, I first spotted them eating the berries on the serviceberry (Amelanchier) tree by the pool house. Since that time, I'd not seen them until this week, when they came in numbers to eat from the Washington hawthorn trees. We've got five mature trees in the yard, so there are plenty of berries to go around. The robins have been dining there, too, as I mentioned in an earlier post.

It was a bright, sunny day today and the cedar waxwings were out in great numbers. If I had to give an estimate of how many I saw at one time, perched all over a large oak tree in the back yard, I'd say about 30! The sun shining on their fluffy pale yellow bellies was beautiful.



Cedar waxwings eat mostly fruits and berries. If the fruit is old and has begun to ferment, they can become intoxicated and even die from eating too many.

I'm not sure what these cedar waxwings are eating from the roof of the
conservatory...

They are native to the entire United States, with them being present year-round in the northern half of the US. In summer, they reach far into Canada and in winter, will go as far south as the northern tip of South America. Their high-pitched song is distinctive and many times you'll hear them before you see them.



A red, waxy secretion at the tips of some of their feathers gives them the "waxwing" part of their name. The function of these secretions isn't known, but may have something to do with attracting a mate.

Berries on our Washington hawthorn tree
If you want to attract these beautiful birds to your yard, be sure to plant fruit-bearing shrubs and trees, such as hawthorns, serviceberry, mulberry, dogwood, raspberries, cedar, mistletoe,  juniper, mountain ash, honeysuckle, and crabapple.In summer, they'll also each such insects as scale, mayflies, leaf beetles, and dragonflies.








13 comments:

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Nice photos!

I'm not sure if I've seen one of those birds in person. I don't have room for trees in our yard. There are lots of trees in the neighborhood, but I'm not sure how many of the ones on your list are around. I have a couple of beauty berry bushes, and a few raspberry plants, but I'm hoping to beat the birds to most of the raspberries.

James Missier said...

hi, just drop by - noting from the Rainforest Gardener that you are the club winner.
You really got a lovely garden there, lot to see all those birds & berries in my garden too but I guess it would never happen in a tropical rainforest area.

meemsnyc said...

Those birds are so pretty!!

Nutty Gnome said...

I wish we had waxwings over here Kylee, they're so sweet!

Nutty Gnome said...

I wish we had waxwings over here Kylee, they're so sweet!

shirl said...

I can easily imagine how thrilled you've been to see the Waxwings, Kylee :-)

We saw them visit in large groups to our area for the first time this year too. They never stay still for long do they? Ours are a different type here in Scotland/UK being the Bombycillidae species.

I've admired the Cedar Waxwings in blogs for some time. Enjoy your visitors. Great images and info :-)

Just to add that my garden is small, so to tempt Waxwings to visit I offered them apples from the supermarket with wire threaded through them making garlands and decorated an Acer tree. They didn't come but many other birds feasted on them :-)

Annelie said...

LOVE those birds, so beautiful.
Now that is the kind of thief you don't mind.

Annelie

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

You mean to tell me there are Cedar Waxwings in Ohio? I have never saw a one here. I think they are the prettiest marked birds. They like your trees Kylee. I need MORE berry trees! LOL!
Your tree looks so pretty with the snow.

Dave@TheHomeGarden said...

I love seeing the waxwings! Too bad it's so rare where I am but on occasion they do make an appearance.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

I love the waxwings...but we're still inundated with fantastic numbers of buntings here, Kylee. I am looking forward to seeing you report that you have them, too!

Meems said...

Hi Kylee,
Oh, I am SO with you! The cedar waxwings are beautifully marked creatures. They appear so 'in charge' don't they! They sometimes winter in Florida but more in the panhandle. I've not ever seen one in my neck of the woods except in an aviary and that doesn't really count. Love the serviceberries against your winter white background, too! And that blue sky... fabulous. **hugs to warm you, dear girl.**
Meems

Kylee said...

Sue ~ I was over 50 years old before I saw my first one!

James ~ Thanks, James! It's nice to see a variety of things, though, and through the wonder of the internet, we can! :-)

meemsnyc ~ I think so, too!

Nutty Gnome ~ I love your version of robins!

shirl ~ That apple idea is a good one, Shirl! I've seen photos of the Bombycillidae waxwings and they're very similar, if I remember correctly.

Annelie ~ They can steal the berries all they want! I love seeing them!

Hocking Hills Gardener ~ Lona, yes, they're in Ohio, year round! I'll bet you have bluebirds in winter there, don't you? I'm a little too far north for that, but we still have a lot of nice ones.

Dave ~ I don't know if they just started showing up here or if they've always been here and I didn't notice. Probably the latter.

Jodi ~ They've become one of my very favorite birds. I get so excited when I see them, especially when they appear in such large groups like they did this day.
No more bunting sightings, but I'm keeping my eyes open for them!

Meems ~ Yes, the sky was jewel-like that day! VERY cold, but that oftentimes brings the bluest blue skies with it. That tree with the red berries is our native Washington hawthorn. We have several mature ones here, and I'm always pulling out seedlings in the spring. You can imagine how it self-seeds, with all those berries! Obviously, the birds don't get them all but perhaps they even plant them from the "other" end, once they've eaten them! LOL.
Thank you for the warm hugs and of course, back to you! <3

Patsi said...

Thanks for the list of what to plant to attract these birds.
I have juniper and honeysuckle and lots of evergreens so the birds find shelter in the winter.
Love the red berries.

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