Tuesday, May 16, 2017

More Migrants on the Tuolumne River: Cedar Waxwings!

I mentioned in the last blog how much I love our migrant bird species. The Orioles have arrived, and so have a number of others. I saw a couple of yellowish birds flitting in the trees at the Tuolumne River Parkway trailhead the other day, and caught a few fuzzy images, but not really good enough to post. It was enough to identify them as Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum).

A day or two later I was out walking again and saw a flock of birds fleeing a hawk and eventually they settled down in a dead cottonwood tree along the river. I got some much sharper shots, though at some greater distance.

The Cedar Waxwings are colorful birds, with yellow breasts and distinctive "raccoon" masks around their eyes. They can make noise, but I rarely hear them vocalize (A year or two ago I had an entire flock in my front yard tree and I didn't notice them for hours).
I live roughly at the northern boundary of the bird's winter range (from here all the way to Central America), and they migrate north for breeding, so I've mostly seen them during the spring and fall migration.

They are called waxwings for a bright orange or red waxy secretion on the end of some of their wingtips. I didn't get any good shots of the wingtips the other day, but you can check some of my earlier posts to see them.

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