An Orgy of Cedar Waxwings

An Orgy of Cedar Waxwings

The first time I experienced a cedar waxwing swarm, I was teaching art in South Georgia. The school, now a middle school, had formerly been the high school, and had a courtyard in the center of the campus completely surrounded by the building. Inside this courtyard were planted eight (if my memory serves) holly trees and some other species -- I remember a loquat. 

The birds descended in a massive flock, starting with one tree, moving on to the next, the bulk of the birds all working in a frenzy on the same tree. The flock moved mostly as one. Given the number of trees and the amount of fruit on them, it took a few days for the stripping of the fruit to be accomplished. 

Bombycilla cedrorum on Aronia arbutifolia

Bombycilla cedrorum on Aronia arbutifolia

Since our yard has been a young work in progress since 2008--the only mature trees were fir and white pine-- we have only just begun to get trees with a size large enough to support anything near "flock-sized." And if you want cedar waxwings, you need something large enough to get noticed. From All About Birds: "Cedar Waxwings love fruit. To attract waxwings to your yard, plant native trees and shrubs that bear small fruits, such as dogwood, serviceberry, cedar, juniper, hawthorn, and winterberry." 

Our neighbors have a lovely, mature dogwood. Our first year of residence, we planted an American Holly, which I already knew would attract the little squeaky devils. We have since added serviceberry, "Winter King" hawthorn and several winterberry hollies. We also had planted the red chokeberry you see pictured above, and the crabapple at the top of the blog. Of these, the Winter King loads up the most berries--pollinators love it. It is a nicely globular tree, if you are looking for such a thing, it is drought and clay tolerant, and handles pollution well, making it an excellent urban tree. 

Very few fruit remain on any of these plants. Someone has been Very Busy. 

Be warned-- waxwings will eat fermented fruit and get quite loopy as a result. So window collisions are not out of the question. 

Why would you want waxwings? With their dastardly little black masks, jewel-like red waxed wingtips, bright yellow tail tips, softly-blushed bellies? Oh... guess we already answered that question. Regardless, they are fun, if somewhat clumsy little forest birds, with distinctive, high-pitched voices. I am delighted that they finally found our yard. 

Are You Firewise?

Are You Firewise?