The Heck

Movement in the tangle of branches behind the feeder catches my eye: a tuft of head feathers is my first clue that something is different. The crest is almost cardinal-like, but the colour is all wrong.  In lieu of binoculars, I grab my camera to get a better look. What the heck?

As the bird comes into reluctant focus, I get it: a waxwing. And, as usual, not just one but a bevy of these beauties. A small flock, forsooth.

What isn’t so clear in the moment is whether they’re Bohemian or Cedar Waxwings. I always check the options online before pronouncing on these birds that I see for only a few days in the Spring – and that, only if I’m lucky. They seemed to take the pandemic off.

As it turns out, these birds trace their roots not to a duchy in what is now the Czech Republic but to Lebanon. They are Cedar Waxwings: Bombycilla cedrorum.

A treat to find in your binocular viewfield, the Cedar Waxwing is a silky, shiny collection of brown, gray, and lemon-yellow, accented with a subdued crest, rakish black mask, and brilliant-red wax droplets on the wing feathers. – All About Birds

Shot to shot, the quality of light varies; the delight they give me does not.

What the heck is going on over there?

Who the heck are *you*?

What the heck is it?

Oh, the heck with it. I’m going in!

It looks sorta weird. Oh, heck, I’ll just swallow without tasting . . .

There will be heck to pay if this gets stuck . . .

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10 Responses to The Heck

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Heck, those are beautiful pictures.

  2. barbara carlson says:

    Lovely shots! No. 1 especially. 😀

  3. Beautiful photos! The variety of shots adds drama to their subdued plumage. We don’t have these, although I know about them. Didn’t know they came from Lebanon – a particularly juicy bit of trivia to throw into a conversation.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – Ralph tells me that he remembers them from a tree in Gram’s front yard, so maybe they hang out (or used to?) nearer the river. My impression here is that they are a Spring transient, and easy to miss. Sadly, the Lebanon thing was a joke (failed, obviously) for the cedars of Lebanon.

  4. They are social. They will pass a berry from one to another all the way down the branch. They will care for a weaker member of the group, too, as I recall. The birds are glorious and the photos magnificent. Or the other way around! The painterly shading from one area of colour to the next is entrancing.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – I’ve seen them in flocks, but haven’t seen that behaviour. I’ll go back outside . . . 🙂 And many thanks – glad you like the photos.

  5. Very nice collection. We’ve had a couple over, not enough trees for a flock – lucky you.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim R – 🙂 Yes, very lucky. And thanks! They’re a bit jumpier than I recall, but my last big visitation was 6 years ago, turns out, so I may be misremembering.

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