Thursday, April 14, 2016

Cedar Waxwing

From Northfield, Dallas is a straight shot down I-35. This year I decided to avoid Oklahoma City by driving on county roads east of the city. Unfortunately this decision added two hours to our journey. Our route did bring us to Sulfur, Oklahoma, at the edge of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Sulfurous spring water ran through several small creeks.

Here we found a huge flock of Cedar Waxwings drinking water. Waxwings love water. These are are one of our most frugivorous birds. The problem in the winter is that the dried fruit they consume tends to cause dehydration. The birds counteract this osmotic stress by drinking water (or snow) (Wikipedia). In the summer, water is not as critical. Then fruits are juicier and the waxwings also supplement their diet with small insects and insect larvae (Witmer et al. 2014).

If you look closely at the flock drinking in the lower photo, you may notice, on the left, a waxwing with a bright red tail tip.  This color, according to Cornell University, is the result of the bird’s eating introduced ornamental honeysuckle berries with red pigments.
 

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