[Tweeters] Yep, they were Cedar Waxwings !

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Mon Sep 23 12:51:16 PDT 2013

It's unanimous! - Theresa and Doug were seeing Cedar Waxwings (likely a flock of juveniles), with the black eye stripe (triangular) mistaken for the actual crest. Juveniles don't have all the adult colorations, travel around this time of year in groups (of 2 - 20), and sometimes get so drunk on berries that they can't fly (so can they hover?). The geometric-shaped mark is actually light grayish, with white edges sometimes showing through from under the wings - in the photo I'm looking at right now (in the Dorling Kindersley Smithsonian Birds of N.A., Western Region), that shape looks like a down-pointing arrow because one wing is slightly covering the bottom part of the shape. The gregariousness is typical CW and they do eat insects as well as berries and flower petals. Intoxication might cause them to mistake a spider for a true insect - hey, they're young and they're learning! Or maybe spiders are more commonly eaten than one might think...

Waxwings feed close to other birds on trees (often Mt. Ash with ripe or overripe berries) and on ground, especially in migration and winter - they have a thin, high-pitched call and often call constantly when in flight and sometimes when perched - but T&D may not even have noticed the soft sounds, IF the waxwings were making any while being so engrossed in the spider extraction from the web ! They "hawk" insects like mayflies, especially along streams and they are attracted to birdbaths and other water features.

Thanks to those who collaborated with us on this little puzzle, which I now have heard, is one of the more commonly-asked about 'mystery birds'. The experience and the process of getting to a solution, was fun and very much appreciated by my friends. We've all learned some things, and I believe Theresa and Doug will continue to enjoy practicing their observation skills on the birds that catch their eye. It's a good thing!

Barb Deihl

North Matthews Beach - NE Seattle

barbdeihl at comcast.net
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