Thursday, December 14, 2006

Waxwings and winterberries

I was birdwatchiing in McKinney Falls state park today, not expecting many birds though, because it was in the middle of the afternoon, not the best time for seeing birds--but as walked along the limestone cliff above Onion Creek I began to hear the faint gargling whistles of a flock of cedar waxwings. I soon found myself surrounded by the whistles, localized in bushes all around me. The birds paid little attention to me. They were busy eating winterberries, which is what the bright red berries of the native deciduous holly (Ilex decidua) are called. The holly plants have all lost their leaves at this time of year, so the berries are easily visible to the birds, and the birds, as it happens, are also easily visible to the camera.

It was actually a mixed flock of waxwings and robins, but they seemed to share the feast amicably, possibly because there seems to be a big crop of berries--plenty for everyone.

Here is a cedar waxwing who has found a winterberry.
Cedar waxwing eating holly berries

Here is a waxwing looking for more berries
Cedar waxwing looking for holly berries

Two waxwings in a holly bush
Two cedar waxwings eating holly berries

(click on any photo for larger versions on my Flickr page.)

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