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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Waxwings & Waxlesswings

I had the good fortune to change a mundane errand into a photo frenzy a few weeks ago when I heard the high, shrill zreees of Cedar Waxwings outside the local PostNet shipping store. The little strip mall housing the shop had a few crabapples heavily laden with winter-shriveled fruit, and the waxwings were thronging to the trees in waves as the reserves sat back higher in bare cottonwoods waiting for their turns. Using the trusty BrdPics mobile as a blind, I parked near one of the trees with the light at my back, rolled down the window, and set about trying to catch some of the action.

What I really wanted was a shot showing the namesake tertiary tips. Seems like most of my pics of these birds are looking up at them- nice, but no waxy wings showing here:
There was a lot of gratuitous feeding-frenzy action to keep me busy while I watched for a good pose showing a bird's upperparts:
You didn't see that slip, did you?

I noticed an interesting feature in some of my pics- when the birds gulp down a whole fruit, their tongue helps push the thing down with a neat harpoon-like tip that presumably doesn't easily let the fruit slip back forward:
And down the fruit did go!Frustratingly, though, lots of the birds lacked the colorful waxy feather tips. These are first-winter birds, and won't get the tips until their adult plumage molts in:
Finally, though, I had color showing on a bird's back and commenced to firing. I only got a few frames but finally had at least a few waxy tips to enjoy looking at.


Nora said...

I love this post and will have to go and look at my waxwing picures to see if I got the backs...I was mostly looking up...lovely post. cheers.

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

What beautiful birds. I am seeing more and more Waxwings where I live, and I just love that they are around. I never used to see them here!