On the same day that Leonard and I saw a merlin in our yard for the first time, and a single evening grosbeak, a irruptive species that always arrives in flocks, we also saw a small flock of cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum). Another irruptive species, these were the first cedar waxwings to ever come into our yard. Granted, there may have been others that Leonard and I missed seeing, but we are quite observant. No matter, it was exciting to see cedar waxwings in the willow next to the kitchen window. What a day for birds in our yard!
Our property is in an area that transitions the summer breeding and winter ranges of the cedar waxwing. Depending on the reference cedar waxwings should be year-round or winter residents for us. At our elevation (4,200′) they are rare in the winter, however, we can find cedar waxwings throughout the year about twenty miles away where the elevation is 1,000′ less.
A specialized fruit eater, the cedar waxwing can be found anywhere there are fruiting trees and shrubs. They also will eat insects, flower buds and petals. I do not know why the cedar waxwings were in our yard. The fruit trees are bare and there are no shrubs with fruit. Maybe they were eating scale insects or leaf beetles on the ancient willow. The heated water dish I keep on the back deck may have attracted them, although we never saw a waxwing at the dish. Or perhaps the cedar waxwings were simply “resting” in their search for food.
For whatever reason, Leonard and I were delighted that for the first time cedar waxwings stopped by our house. I love this bird with its soft, subdued colors and bold black mask. The softness is only accentuated in this picture taken through my kitchen window (Modoc County CA).