Friday, October 18, 2013

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing numbers have increased during the past few decades. Pesticide use is ever more regulated. Furthermore, this species is ruled by fruit trees, which have become more abundant as farmlands turn back to forest and as urban trees mature. The dependance on fruit, a patchily distributed resource, results in waxwings traveling in flocks, to better find and harvest the fruit. Waxwings are nomadic, seldom returning to the same areas to nest, depending, instead, on abundance of local fruiting. (A waxing that I banded in Aberdeen, South Dakota on 24 January 1988, was caught on 11 November 1988 at the Carpenter Nature Center near Hastings, Minnesota.) Finally, waiting for fruit to ripen, waxwings breed late in the summer (Witmer et al. 1997).

Erika and I found this young waxwing—note the lack of much of a crest and its relatively ruffled plumage—feeding on grapes in the Carleton College Arboretum on 13 October 2013. Note also that it lacks the red wing spots often seen of both sexes and all ages of waxwings.

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