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Cedar Waxwings, Facts and Interesting Stories
Baby Cedar Waxwings
My first encounter with Cedar Waxwings was at a bird rescue where I was volunteering in Delaware back in 2005. That particular day, I was assigned to baby birds. It was late spring, and one of the cages that I was working with housed waxwings and American Goldfinches. These babies weren’t newborn, but were old enough to be fed about once every half hour. The waxwings were not aggressive, but they didn’t have any trouble grabbing what they thought was theirs. Basically, I had to put a hand up as a shield to keep the waxwings from taking the food that I was feeding the young goldfinches. They would just open their mouths and expect the food to be put in their mouths. Waxwings and goldfinches get along well, which is why they were housed together, but I had to laugh to myself during these feedings.
Entertainment with Wings
Another experience with waxwings was the winter of 2005-06. I was spending the Christmas holidays in Maine and was under the oldest apple tree on the property. It had some frozen, fermented apples still on the branches. A flock of waxwings showed up, maybe 30-40. They began eating the apples. Eventually, they were having difficulties keeping their balance while they were eating. Their flying was erratic, as well, and those on the ground appeared to be disoriented. I later found out that these birds had gotten intoxicated on those fermented apples. Who would have thought that birds would or could get themselves drunk? These birds are passerines, which means perching birds. They have four toes, which helps them grip their perches, or tree branches. Their given name also translates to “silky cedar.” This is one of the more regal looking birds that you will ever see, and they strike quite a pose. They are the avian world’s models, and they certainly leave an impression with you, once they have visited. They are known as overeaters, if given the opportunity, and I have seen them fall to the ground having eaten more than their fill.
They eat fruit, nuts, and insects, and tend to frequent the outskirts of forests and open woodlands. Most of their nest sites seem to be in maples or cedars. According to the latest bird count, their populations seem to be on the uprise, or at least holding steady. This is good news, I think. Here’s another fact for you: back in the early days of the 1900’s, the state of Vermont had passed a law that these birds could be shot on site, as they were decimating fruit crops. Thankfully, the Senate went against this when it was put to a National level, as their usefulness in eating insects won them over. So, here you have it. Some useful facts to tantalize your friends and neighbors, and I hope I have whet your appetite enough with my stories to get your cameras and binoculars at the ready.
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