Web Text-ures Logo
Web and Book design,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio
1999-2007


(Return to Web Text-ures)
Click Here to return to
Familiar Studies Of Wild Birds
Content Page
Kellscraft Studio Logo
(HOME)

FAMILIAR STUDIES OF WILD BIRDS
A FAMILY OF CEDAR WAX-WINGS
(Ampelis cedrorum)

ON a tramp in the country early in May one may come on a flock of pretty little cedar wax-wings, engaged in picking the buds from wayside trees and bushes. An incessant chorus of low plaintive notes coming from several hundred of these dainty brown birds frequently attracts one's attention before he has noticed the flock. Although rather shy, the birds may be approached close enough to distinguish with the naked eye the delicate shading of their soft brown feathers, the tapering crests, the yellow band terminating the tail, and the small red globular structures on the wings ( and very rarely on the tail) , from which this species derives its name.

Several weeks later, these migrating flocks have separated into pairs, but it is often well along in the season before the birds build their nests, for the berries and fruit on which the young thrive ripen late. During the summer the food of the wax-wings consists of fruit, cherries, and all kinds of wild berries. After the young are old enough to be left alone, both adults go off together in their search for food, often making trips of several miles. Whether in the air or at rest, they have the habit of uttering, continually, low calls, that are expressive of companionability. They are seldom absent more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time, and when they are heard returning, the young set up a complementary chorus but the latter always remain discreetly silent while the old birds are away. Occasionally, mistaking a bird that flits by for one of their parents, the young start begging for food, but quickly appreciate their mistake and subside.



WAXWINGS CARRY SEVERAL BERRIES IN THEIR THROATS IN ADDITION TO ONE OR MORE IN THEIR BEAKS.
ONE BERRY BEING FED TO THE YOUNG, ANOTHER MIRACULOUSLY APPEARS


WAXWING ABOUT TO REGURGITATE A BERRY

The old wax-wings, returning from foraging, usually carry several berries in the crop, in addition to one in the beak. When a raspberry is stuffed down a gaping beak, behold, another one appears, and is held a moment tentatively before being fed to the next in turn of the progeny. No amount of stuffing satisfies the hungry youngsters, which, flapping their wings, beg in the beseeching way natural to young birds.

The near presence of an unobtrusive visitor does not deter cedar wax-wings from proceeding with their home duties. After the first day which was necessarily spent gaining the acquaintance of the present family, many satisfactory photographs were secured without serious difficulty. The old birds would now and then fly around the camera to inspect this strange instrument, and several times alighted on it without fear. At other times they sailed back for a good look at me, where I lay about twenty feet distant, partly concealed in the tall grass, with thread in hand, ready to release the shutter.

It should not be concluded that because cedar wax-wings are relatively tame as compared with some other species that the securing of satisfactory photographs of them does not involve skill and perseverance. As anyone who has attempted to photograph wild birds knows, there are many factors influencing success, and one must always be prepared to be patient, and spend as much time as necessary in gaining the confidence of his subjects.



A WAXWING IN A GRACEFUL POSE



THE WAXWING FAMILY MINUS ONE OF THE YOUNG, WHICH REFUSED TO REMAIN ON THE PERCH


THE FIVE YOUNG WAXWINGS SOON AFTER LEAVING THE NEST


WAXWINGS AGAINST THE LIGHT

Book Chapter Logo Click the book image to turn to the next Chapter.