Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cedar Waxwing just passing through Southeast Texas

Birds are in a hurry, but old man winter is not cooperating. It is migration time again, and we still have two more weeks of winter. The Yaupon do not wait however. Their berries are ripe, perfect for the Cedar Waxwings and Robins to eat. However, the squirrels were the early bird this year. With the drought last year, the berries were more important this year than normal to the squirrels. They have been eating them like crazy! Nevertheless, there are enough berries to go around. The arrival of the masses of this species is exact every year, about Valentines Day.

Amazing enough their arrival is always coincident with the first blooming and little noticed elm tree. Using photographic equipment, we are able to see the two wonders of nature singing in concert this year for spring time! It is not quite time to nest but time to bloom! Waxwings have the itch, you might say but they take their time getting back home. They dilly dattle around on their way up north, in no hurry, partaking as they go. No food? Move on! Eventually they will reach their nesting sites, but they move as slow as Spring moves, but start very early. 

These birds are very social and chat or fuss at each other while feeding.  They are accompanied by a hoard of  Robins. And no, I have not seen the Robins after worms. Robins do search for berries on the ground under the Yaupons, trying to eat the crumbs left behind.  I have plenty of worms in my backyard, but have yet to see one Robin in the spot where I raise the worms.

Eating berries in a tree is not an easy job, even if your body is made for it. The berries are in the most awful difficult places to reach, like on the very end of a branch. A squirrel will just cut the end of the branch off, but the birds must pluck each berry from the branches.
If you are persistent and play the game right, you are rewarded with the fruit of your labor.

Now for the unusual habits of this bird. Yes, they are very active and they eat fruit, especially well known for their affinity to the berries of cedar and thus their name,  they often are tipsy and a maybe little drunk to boot! After all, fruit ferments when the temperature warms up. Right now, the berries are rich in sugar and on warm days, expect them to contain fermented alcohol as well.The birds may fly into windows and do other "silly" unexpected things as a result of this phenomena.

These birds are fun to watch. Take some binoculars and watch them closely. These masked silky lively colored birds are out to have a good time in the forests of The Woodlands right now. They will soon be gone. Not cold lovers, they have been hesitant to move on north. These guys seem to be keeping warm today, all fluffed up in the north wind and looking toward the horizon for what is coming next. Bad news - arctic air will arrive again in just a few days.
Although some will migrate as far south as Costa Rica, most go no further than South Texas for the winter. That way they are closer to returning back to their summer home and can take the first flight home. To heck with the old saying about the Robin! Last one's home is a rotten egg! Thanks for the berries Woodlands! See ya at happy hour again next year! Meanwhile, on to the next bar down the road.


Haydon/Ellis said...

Cedar waxwings here in Bellaire (Houston), too. A whole flock of them, today

Anonymous said...

Amazing photos. Birds and flowers are my favorite subjects of photos.

Michelle said...

I was surrounded by a beautiful gregarious flock of Cedar Waxwings this morning in College Station, TX. I'm not a birder so it took me some time to identify them. Such striking birds. Thank you for your information.

Amy Holton Designs said...

We had a flock of about 12 in our oak trees today in Austin. out of curiosity, not having seen these birds, I had to pull out the laptop and find out what they were. Came across your blog. What a lovely description. They're so much fun to watch.