Sunday, January 27, 2008

A few minutes with Cedar Waxwings


I like the look of birch bark until it reminds me of my skin, magnified.

Last Wednesday we had a break from the wind and sub-freezing temps. Before dinnertime, I casually strolled through the yard for a while, looking for something eye-pleasing to photograph. Feeling desperate, in a way…

It was a day when one feels life is caving in at every angle.


Dull, brown Crepe Myrtle pods made for a nice photo but they didn’t lift me much. Maybe if a Goldfinch had landed...

I wondered when I’d ever be able to bring out the garden hose to wash the dirt from the windows, deck, and rocking chairs on the front porch. Everything outside has been so dirty for so long... The water restrictions are still in force, dammit, and I need to use soap and a garden hose! We’re very dry, still.

I wondered if I will be able to plant new this spring to entertain the butterflies and hummingbirds.


I wondered when I’d be able to wash the pond filter without feeling my fingers might freeze and crack off. Ooops.


I wondered what will make him STOP. He’s still guarding feeder stations and I haven’t seen my nuthatches or woodpeckers in over a week.

There’s nothing major going on to cause me worry. I let all the small, nagging stuff get the best of me.


Thank you, Chickadee. You’re a brave, tiny bird.

Tied to the kitchen during these short evenings, rushing to tend to the bird feeders and exercising Chloe and Bella, made me feel real sorry for myself. There were two loads of laundry waiting for me. And I remembered that I need to schedule a day off from work to clean hardwood. My office job is too busy right now and I’m not enjoying it one bit, either. Woe was me.


At 5pm, the birds line up on the fence. I thought if anyone had a pair of Cardinals, they must have ten more. Yes, I do have at least fifteen pairs. Cardinal red is definitely a bright spot on my small landscape but it wasn’t enough to put me in a decent mood on this particular day. No way.


Their feeders were empty. How would you like to have thirty Mourning Doves show up for dinner and a splash in the pond? It’s their ritual and one which I welcome, actually, but they never let me near. They prefer private spas.

The evening shadows were chilling as I lifted the collar on my coat but the sky was still bright blue. When I looked to the northern sky, just before heading back inside, I saw what looked like an army of small fighter planes with bright yellow undersides, flying very low, in close formation over the pond. I froze in my tracks and watched their landing for a moment before I raised the camera. Yeah, I smiled.


In a weeping willow high on a hill, beyond my back fence, the setting sun highlighted their shades of pastel yellow and golden brown so nicely.


I wanted to see their bright red and yellow waxy wing tips and hoped my Kodak zoom would help me.

Is there a bird more glamorous than a Cedar Waxwing?


They didn’t arrive here to eat. I don’t have their fruit. Not yet. They rested for a few minutes.


Ahhhh. Smooth and sleek. Painted birds, all dressed up. Getting ready for an early evening around the town.

I watched from inside to see if they would land on the pond like a few did a while back, but as soon as I stepped inside, they fled.

Now see? What if I had not taken my bad mood on a little nature walk in the back yard? I would have been crabby all night. A flock of Cedar Waxwings saved my day and everything was alright. Thank you.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Oh Mary what a hoot you are. I won't look at birch bark for awhile without thinking about you and your winter dry skin. Ha...

Aren't Cedar Waxwings the most elegant birds? Nothing better to raise your spirits. Ain't nachur grand??

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Mary, you always make me smile. I'm so glad you found something on your walk to make you happy. I can see how the cedar waxwings did just that. They are quite lovely indeed.

I hope you have a better week and that things slow down at work for you real soon.

Bek said...

I am pretty new to your blog and I like it a lot. We also still have water restrictions. I already had similar thoughts like you about planting new stuff this year. Your bird pictures are great! It would have cheered me up:)

KGMom said...

Goodness, Mary--you still have water restrictions? That does not bode well for spring & summer.
Your birds are wonderful--we still have none. I guess the peregrine is really keeping them away.

Carol Michel said...

Dagburnit, Mary, all those birds! I thought maybe birds had found my feeder, but now it seems I have none again. Yet, for you they perch on the fences, in the trees, on the rooftops, just waiting to eat at Mary's Bird Stop! You must be a 'bird whisperer'.

I do hope you get some rain soon.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Mary said...

Carol, you feeder is new. I had few birds when mine was new. It takes time! Be patient!

Mary said...


Thanks for visiting. Water restrictions are so disappointing... Let's hope for a wet spring!

Susie said...

Those cedar waxwings are beautiful. I know I'll always see some birds here that never visit our yard. We've had just pouring icy cold rain for days now. We've been getting drenched. I'd send you some if I could...

Q said...

Dear Mary,
Cedar Waxwings to the rescue!
They are beautiful!! Your zoom did a very nice job of bringing the darlings right in.
I am looking and hoping some will come to my backyard.
You have lots of beautiful birds. Mr. Mocker does seem to have taken over the feeding station.
Spring rain will surely come.
I must go back and look again at all your lovely Waxwings!
Smiles for your week.
Waxwings ahhh....

Susan Gets Native said...

Mary, I have yet to have a mood bad enough to be able to stand up against the BEWDS.
I think we all get a case of "the blahs" around this time.
(That reminds me of a great Jim Borgman comic...a guy is standing at the door receiving a package, and his wife says "don't worry dear. Everyone gets a case of the blahs around this time". And the box is full of these little critters who look....well...BLAH)
*Off to find that comic online*

Anonymous said...

Mary - I am soo glad that you had found these waxwings and made your day! They are such cutties and each one has character to them. Bravo

JeanMac said...

I love your pictures. I have a mystery here - buddy, our cat, won't sit at his window any longer. I wonder if a quail hit right in front of him and freaked him. Any ideas?
Hope you have a good week at work.

Nora said...

lovely photos first I just had to laugh at the top photo..then you thrilled me with mourning doves and waxwings. We have them here also. I really like your blog but seldom comment..I just get carried away reading it all.

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous birds! Wow! I've never seen a Cedar Waxwing -- definitely on my must see list!

Alyssa said...

Doesn't this year seem to drag a person's mood down. But nature always seems to have a neat trick up her sleeve. All the birds are really pretty but the Waxwings are especially elegant. They look like they have eye-liner on! They are so rare in our yard and there will only be a pair or two here. You are very lucky! The pictures of them preening are wonderful.

Maybe soon you won't have so darn much work to do and can relax and enjoy the things that you really love. I'll be thinking of you and be sending positive vibes this week!!

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Maybe you could offer the Mockingbird something different--so he will not feel he has to guard the feeders?
Such as berries? Or fruit? On his own little place? The waxwings might like it, too--and it might leave the seeds and dough for the other feeders?

Just a thought.

Jayne said...

Ahhhh.... so very beautiful Mary! Lucky, lucky you! So glad they saved the day. :c)

Beth said...

Great post, Mary - funny how little miracles come along at just the right time, eh?

Your photos are so stunning. Carolina that sky! I'm probably the only person who gets a thrill from the BACKGROUND blue sky rather than the lovely birdies! Either way, I love your photos!

Thanks for detailing your day. It gave me a smile this morning!

Happy Monday!

Peg Silloway said...

Mary, what cedar waxwings do for you - that's what your blog does for me. On a chilly gray January morning, I know I can find a tree full of cardinals or a belligerent mockingbird right here to brighten my day. Thanks for the words and the chuckles - birch-bark skin is all too familiar!

Dorothy said...

Dear Mary,

Your birds are just so beautiful. I think your feeder set-up is so clever. I'll bet the people at WBU love to see you come into their store.

Hugs to you for your blahs, I think we all have them at this time of year....Spring will be here soon....(that's what I keep telling myself).

Cathy said...

Crabby Mary. Thanks for taking me on your nature walk. It helped my mood, too :0)

I love this - "Smooth and sleek. Painted birds, all dressed up. Getting ready for an early evening around the town." Perfect.

Kathie Brown said...

Mary, how lovely to have a flock of Cedar Waxwings save your day! I'm glad the walk helped. I like the photo of the mockingbird with the blue cutout next to him. I hope nature throws a few more smiles your way this week.

Mary said...

Lisa, I'd love to look as elegant...

Robin, only one or two more weeks of office overload (so they say)!

Donna, yes, they are talking of imposing more severe restrictions by May. No gardens this year :o(

Susie, thanks for the wet wishes.

Sherry, Mocker is getting to be a real drag. I'll work something out.

Susan, I'd like to see what a BLAH critter looks like :o)

Monarch, glad you like the little "cutties".

Jean, a bird's window strike can wake up the dead. Poor cat has been traumatized.

Island Rambles, glad you visited and enjoyed the CWs! I rarely see them and I guess that's why they excite me so much.

Liza, I wish I could send you one :o)

Alyssa, thanks for the good vibes. It's a 5-day work week. I hope I make it through alive. LOL!

Nina, I'm still experimenting. I noticed the Mocker relaxed when I removed the Zick dough for three days. As soon as I served it again, he reverted to bullying. When I serve it in three different places, he guards it in three different places. He must be exhausted. I'll need to remove it for longer than three days, I guess. Or serve grapes in one location - that might keep him occupied...

Jayne, yes, but they are not Bluebirds... :o)

Beth, I complained about two loads of laundry while you have 10. Shame on me.

Peg, I always love hearing from you!

Dorothy, oh, they love me at WBU! I wonder if they would give me a job there.

Cathy, tis the season for moods, I guess... :o/

Kerri Farley said...

Oh Mary....Cedar Waxwings are absolutely amazing! Isn't it wonderful how being out in nature can cheer us up!!!

Yet again a wonderful wonderful post!

PS - hope your job eases up on you soon!!!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mare,
Your posts always make me smile (even when I'm crabby). I'm glad all those cedar waxwings let you get so close for pictues. They are one of my favorite birds too.

I hope you can figure out a solution for your posessive mockingbird. I don't have a single idea about helping to solve this problem.

Mary said...

Kerri, the job will get better soon.

Ruthie, the Mockingbird is deranged and need to be committed to an asylum, or, I should call in a bird behavioral specialist :o/ I found a dead male house finch about 10 feet away from the feeder closest to the house. Could have been a window strike, but I have a suspicion...

Mary said...

Kathie, thanks for your wishes. The days will start getting better soon. We've hired help!

NatureWoman said...

Wow Mary!! Look at all of those bewds! How cool! Between you and Jayne, I think you're feeding all of the bewds down south now! LOL!

Mary C said...

Mary - I'm envious. I would love to see just a few of those gorgeous birds in my yard. Even one would satisfy me. ;o)

Naturegirl said...

Mary how magical is that tree with all the Cedar waxwings! The pond spells magic just beautiful! A special gift left for your from one of the angels passing over you!
hugs NG

Julie Zickefoose said...

Boy, that mocker is the definition of a mixed blessing. When you said he guarded all three spots I knew you'd tried what I was about to suggest. I do wonder if there is some way to offer dough out of his line of sight from the primary spot--say on the other side of the house. The problem I run into doing things like that is then I can't see the birds at the secondary spot, which kind of defeats the purpose of feeding and enjoying them.
The other possible solution would be a cage feeder. I'm using one now to try to beat the starlings. It's a square, roofed cage of 1 1/2" mesh. In the middle is the suet dough bowl. Starlings can't get in, but so far the titmice and Carolina wrens have been going in and out. Bluebirds are eyeing it as well. They have used it successfully in past years. I've gone from putting out about a pound a day to about 1/3 pound. It's not perfect, because the juncos won't go in, and the cardinals can't, and because the bluebirds are still suspicous of it, but it helps. I still strew some on the ground for the juncos, cardinals, and song sparrows. Today I have to wash the porch. Disgusting! Starlings! Phew!

kate said...

If it's any consolation, birch bark looks better closeup than prune skin (which I'm sporting from the brutal winds and cold temps we're having).

The Cedar Waxwings look as if they have velvet-covered coats. They are beautiful.

I was happy to see the big fishy swimming in the pond ... my pond is one big pile of snow. The fish are inside and probably bored to tears.

Hopefully, work will calm down a bit - take some time for yourself and not just for cleaning!!

Unknown said...

Nothing like nature to sooth the savage beast. You did just what I do when life gets hectic, crazy and whatever else life hands you. Awesome photos.

dmmgmfm said...

I'm so glad the waxwings saved the day. Don't you know they knew you were having a rough day and stopped by just to brighten it?

Anonymous said...

awwww, Marti beautiful bird pictures. I know some days are hard. I hope your days are better. Carrie

Jess Riley said...

Beautiful, beautiful pictures, as always!!! I love waxwings--we don't really get them where I live.

Annie in Austin said...

It was nice to see birchbark again, even with the hilarious annotations, Mary - but the waxwings were the best. They sometimes come through here in big flocks - hope I see some, too - they do give a lift to the day!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

dguzman said...

Yay, Mary! I have always loved cedar waxwings--so showy.

Larry said...

You seem to have great luck with Cedar Waxwings.-I've been hoping to pick out a Bohemian Waxwing out of the bunch around here but no luck yet.

Mary said...


LOL This is a beautiful post. I love all the birds and wish I could attract more to my yard.

I think the one guarding the station is in love with the wooden blue bird. LOL


Marvin said...

I'm glad the cedar waxwings were able to dispel your sour mood.

To me, it looks as if the mockingbird is trying to figure a way of chasing off that persistent blue silhouette bird.