I’ve been awaiting their arrival for weeks. I’d heard that sometime during late winter, Cedar Waxwings would arrive and feast on the Mountain Ash berries in my backyard.
Now, there’s more to the story. These berries have spent months fermenting over the winter. Rumors have it that the birds get inebriated on the berries and display erratic, drunken behaviors.
I heard them before I saw them. The air was filled with the high-pitched calls of Cedar Waxwings. Since there were so many of them, I knew something was happening even from inside my home.
The Cedar Waxwing is a striking bird. Red-brown body. Buff under parts. Yellow-tipped tail. But it’s the black mask outlined in white that’s the hallmark of this bird.
Cedar Waxwings also have a crested or plumed head; some crests are larger than others. This well-fed waxwing has a very prominent crest. Also notice the red, wax-like tips on bird’s secondary feathers, which help sustain the bird in the air and give it lift. The red wax-like tips are where these birds get their names.
Waxwings are voracious eaters. They swoop onto the tree as a group, chow on the berries, and then fly back to the stand of evergreens at the back of my yard. This behavior has gone on for this whole week.
I was amazed at the acrobatics the Waxwings went through to get at the fruit. Some even hung upside down like trapeze artists.
The Waxwings weren’t the only birds eyeing the action. This Robin looked like it was ready to partake in the fruit feast too.
I was right on that call as it jumped over to another branch and quickly went bottom up as it nibbled away on the berries.
It was great fun watching the Cedar Waxwings enjoy the berries. And it didn’t appear that any of them got “drunk” over the fermented fruits. But at week's end, the Mountain Ash was completely stripped of its berries.