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Exploring Nature

Carolina chickadees can be spotted in the area all year round.
Photo from Metro Creative

Exploring Nature

Exploring Nature: Cedar Waxwings

Sunday, February 5, 2023

I can’t remember a better winter around my place when it comes to seeing birds.

So far, in the first month of the year, I have identified American robins by the dozens, plus cedar waxwings, a Carolina wren, a ladder- backed woodpecker, a house finch and a yellow-rumped warbler. Most all the action has been focused around my concrete birdbath in the backyard and at a blackoil sunflower seed feeder and a hanging suet block.

My year-round Carolina chickadees and black-crested titmice are also still in regular attendance.

While bohemian waxwings do pass through here on their way to more northern locales, we have cedar waxwings throughout the winter. They are smaller than the bohemian variety and are similar in size to a large sparrow. Bohemians are nearly an inch longer and twice as heavy.

Cedar waxwings make high-pitched whistles and trills, while bohemians make a guttural rattling trill.

Bohemian waxwings on rare occasions do appear far south of their regular winter range. In 1959, some 10,000 waxwings passed through Santa Fe, New Mexico, so nomadic excursions do occur.

Cedar waxwings are dark, dapper birds, with sleek crests and smooth, silky plumage. They are nutty brown above and lighter yellowish buff below. This handsome bird sports a black mask above the beak and, combined with the yellow band on the tip of its tail, is quite dapper and debonair.

Berries, especially mulberries, make up a large portion of this bird’s diet and on some occasions, they will gorge on fruit that is overripe and has started to ferment. The result is a very tipsy bird that tries desperately to maintain both its balance and its dignity.

But drunk or sober, the cedar waxwing is a very nice bird and well worth admiring.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666