Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waxwing Walk

There's a crab apple tree down around the corner along my walking route to Lake Arbor.  It's been loaded with old dried apples since last fall.  I keep watching it, thinking it might attract some waxwings, as I've heard reports of them locally in the past couple weeks.  Finally the other morning, I saw some birds flying around the tree as I approached.  Yep, cedar waxwings.  I ran back to the house and crabbed my photo gear.  Got a few shots of the birds feeding on the dried apples.  First really decent shots I have of waxwings.

Got a waxwing story.  When I was growing up in Memphis, the neighbor had a holly tree that was often loaded with berries.  On more than one occasion, a flock of waxwings would come in the winter or spring and gorge on the berries.  Once, I noticed some of the birds falling out of the tree.  I went over there and the ground was littered with birds!  They looked dead, but when I gently picked one up and held it in my hand, I could see it's eyes were open and I could see it breathing.  I put it back down and just went back home and watched.  Pretty soon a couple of the birds were up wobbling around like a drunk.  I went about my business, but looked back later and they were all gone.  I learned later that they were indeed drunk.  They eat so many berries that they have to store them in their esophagus, as waxwings apparently don't have crops like other birds.  The berries ferment in the bird's throat and they do indeed become intoxicated.  I didn't see the birds here acting drunk, but they sure were packing away those apples.  I don't know how they hold so many.  They just about cleaned that tree off in a couple days, however.  They are such beautiful, sleek birds, I think they're one of my favorites.