Skeeter & Marolyn Lasuzzo
Photography by Skeeter Lasuzzo
On April 10th, we were fortunate to photograph a flock of Cedar Waxwings near a small puddle at the edge of the woods in Hagerman Wildlife Refuge. These beautiful silky textured birds usually travel in small to large, very compact flocks - meaning the birds fly very close together. Cedar Waxwings are foragers. They will fly into a berry tree and devour the berries in a short amount of time. There are times when these birds can get so intoxicated from overripe fruit that they cannot fly and have been known to fall off of limbs. They will feed on not only berries but flower petals, insects and will drink sap on occasion. The Cedar Waxwing can also be observed passing fruit back and forth between birds.
These birds are identified by the crest of feathers on their head, the black mask on their face and chin and their silky feather appearance. They also have yellow bellies and white under tail coverts. There is a very distinctive bright yellow band on its tail. The bright red feathers or "sealing wax" at the end of its secondary wings are what give the Cedar Waxwing its name as well as the fact that red cedar berries are their main food source.
Most of the time the Cedar Waxwings will land in the top of trees or in dense berry bushes or trees making it very difficult to get a clear image. We have found that when these birds leave the trees to go to a water source they will sometimes land on lower limbs before going all the way down to the water source, as do most birds. That's exactly what happened at Hagerman which led to a number of pleasing images. The small puddle was ringed by dead limbs approximately 8 to 10 feet above the water. The flock of Waxwings landed on these limbs and posed for a picture before going down to have a drink. As usual with Cedar Waxwings, when the last bird had a drink, the entire flock took flight at the same time and in a flash was gone.
The Cedar Waxwing is a winter resident at Hagerman Wildlife Refuge as well as most of the southern half of the U.S. They will spend the summer in Canada and the central U.S. The Cedar Waxwings will be leaving Hagerman soon to head north.
We have also been fortunate to photograph the Bohemian Waxwing in March in Wyoming. Believe it or not, the Bohemian Waxwing is equally as beautiful as the Cedar Waxwing.
For more information about Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, please see http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/hagerman/index.html, and for information about the activities of the Friends of Hagerman, http://www.friendsofhagerman.com.