Waxwing Heaven

In this week's journal I will be recounting an incredible experience I had last week with some of winter's most beautiful birds. Last Tuesday, I threw on a few layers and my biggest pair of boots and prepared to lead my second bird walk. Perhaps it was the snow on the ground or the chill in the air, but no one showed, and I didn't blame them! Rather than go back to my room, I decided to swing by Centennial and see if any birds were out braving the cold. Before I could even make it to the entrance, I saw the distinctive shape and heard the high-pitched 'seeee' of a Waxwing diving headlong into the crabapples that lined the sidewalk.

I had been hearing a few reports and seeing eBird checklists and knew that Bohemians were a possibility at the time, so I went closer to investigate. Originally, I only spotted the one Cedar Waxwing, perched in a crabapple utterly ignoring my presence. When I put my binoculars up its lemon yellow sides and elegant black mask filled the entire frame. I knew waxwings didn't tend to travel alone, so I wasn't surprised when a few yards further down the path I found a small flock of Cedar Waxwings huddled together in the gray birches near the windmill. Upon closer examination however, I realized that a separate group of waxwings was hidden deep in the birches, and these were much larger and grayer!

It has always been a dream of mine to get a colorful, up-close shot of one of these winter beauties, so I weighed my options and decided that if I were to run home and grab my camera the waxwings would still be there waiting for me. I made a beeline through the snow to get back to UHeights, ran up the stairs, grabbed my camera and 300mm lens and was back outside under the birches in minutes. After getting a few unsatisfactory shots of Waxwing butts about 30ft up in the tree, both the Bohemians and the Cedars took off and flew (almost) out of sight. Chasing the group across the street and onto what I hoped wasn't private property, I found a mixed flock of European Starlings, American Robins, Dark-eyed Juncos, Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings all surrounding a grove of shrubby fruit trees. I knew that this was my chance, and got comfortable in a snow bank and locked my lens onto the Bohemians. For the next 45 minutes, I snapped away at Bohemians, Cedars, and very photogenic robins as I slowly lost feeling in my legs. Once the fruit had been picked clean, the flock departed and I decided it was time to go home, warm up, and see if I did indeed get the shot that I had been hoping for.

Posted by nsharp nsharp, February 19, 2016 01:38

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

American Robin Turdus migratorius

Observer

nsharp

Date

February 9, 2016

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

European Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Observer

nsharp

Date

February 9, 2016

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Photos / Sounds

What

Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum

Observer

nsharp

Date

February 9, 2016

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Photos / Sounds

What

Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus

Observer

nsharp

Date

February 9, 2016

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis

Observer

nsharp

Date

February 9, 2016

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

Photos / Sounds

No photos or sounds

What

Downy Woodpecker Dryobates pubescens

Observer

nsharp

Date

February 9, 2016

Place

UVM Campus (Google, OSM)

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