Sunday, April 10, 2016

Bird Watching: Hairy Woodpecker, Cedar Waxwings

Solo Woodpecker, Waxwings by the Bushel

Hairy is back. Is it pecking at a birdhouse, like last year?
No, it's a step-ladder that he is after!

Lately I have been spotting more hawks and falcons in Old South that in years past. Why, last year a brown-tailed hawk briefly lit atop my neighbour's birdhouse, 50 feet away from where I sat. Wow, I've got to get a better camera!

And a few days ago, after a final sweep of the workshop, I spotted a flock of pale-breasted birds, with a crest, huddled in my same neighbour's maple tree. I placed more seed in the feeder but they didn't budge. By size and shape, my first thought was, they're grosbeaks.

But for the last two days, as the same group huddled in my apricot and Eastern white pine (front yard trees), I've had a chance to snap a few shots, and they are definitely Cedar Waxwings.

"I need a better camera and the apricot tree needs a trim. Branches everywhere!"

Last Photo, from All About Birds (link below):

Cedar Waxwing, Adult, Black mask and chin, Brown head and chest
Yellow wash across belly, White undertail, Yellow tail tip

Keys to identification (At Cornell lab of Ornithology, All About Birds)

Size & Shape

The Cedar Waxwing is a medium-sized, sleek bird with a large head, short neck, and short, wide bill. Waxwings have a crest that often lies flat and droops over the back of the head. The wings are broad and pointed, like a starling’s. The tail is fairly short and square-tipped.

Color Pattern

Cedar Waxwings are pale brown on the head and chest fading to soft gray on the wings. The belly is pale yellow, and the tail is gray with a bright yellow tip. The face has a narrow black mask neatly outlined in white. The red waxy tips to the wing feathers are not always easy to see.


Cedar Waxwings are social birds that you’re likely to see in flocks year-round. They sit in fruiting trees swallowing berries whole, or pluck them in mid-air with a brief fluttering hover. They also course over water for insects, flying like tubby, slightly clumsy swallows.


Look for Cedar Waxwings in woodlands of all kinds, and at farms, orchards, and suburban gardens where there are fruiting trees or shrubs.

Please link to Hairy Woodpecker - He's Baaack

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