Bird of the Week

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the cedar waxwing.
The year’s first glance of a cedar waxwing leaves a silky imprint on the mind. These birds are truly gorgeous. Their color is nearly indescribable, as the majority of their body is cloaked in a beige-brown casting with yellow flanks. They sport a handsome and dignified crest of the same color and Zorro mascara that envelops the eye, originating at the beak.
They arrive from points north with typically yellow-tipped tails, but if molting (replacing feathers), can oftentimes develop orange hues from the ripening berries that they’re eating. Less visible to us, their courtship displays reportedly involve winning over mates with offerings of insects, berries or flower petals. Their name, waxwing, is a reference to their red, waxy-tipped secondary feathers.
They are fruit connoisseurs and are often seen in our region as summer wanes and fall begins, moving in flock form from fruit tree to fruit tree: Hawthorn, serviceberry, chokecherry, juniper, mountain ash and even raspberry and dogwood bushes — you name it. If it has a small, round berry and concentrates sugars, these guys will find it. Plant natives in your yard and you’ll welcome them in for years to come. Even ornamental crabapples will bring them in. Research has shown that even a brown-headed cowbird cannot tolerate parasitizing their nests because the diet is so fruit-based.
For more information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.

This story was posted on September 9, 2018.