Wednesday, February 1, 2017

BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS

      There are two species of waxwings in North America: bohemian and cedar.  Most cedar waxwings spend their summer in Canada and winters in the southern United States. Bohemian waxwings spread out and spend their summers in the boreal forest. Bohemian waxwings winter in south western  Canada where they tend to form large flocks.   Both species of waxwings are very beautiful birds with smooth feathers and small bright yellow or red on wings or tail. You can get quite close to them as they are feeding.

    I've always liked watching the large flock of bohemian waxwings when they spend the winter with us.

   Flocks start appearing in late November and grow larger all winter. Bohemian waxwings like mountain ash berries but actually eat quite a number of different berries.

   The large flocks seem to be joyful as they explode as one and fly around the district.

    Bohemian waxwings have one problem here: the merlin.

    Merlins are a small  falcon and are excellent hunters of birds so they dine on waxwings most days. I see the merlin chase the waxwings many times.

    The other day there was a large flock of waxwings in my neighborhood. They were in a tree in my front yard and of course in many other nearby trees, I got a few photos. Then I looked for another photo. All of a sudden the flock exploded into flight as if they were one. They formed  dense ball and began to climb. All of a sudden I noticed another bird. I thought maybe one waxwing was late to the party. No! It was the merlin. The merlin will get under the flock of waxwings. The waxwings will fly higher to get away from the merlin. All of a sudden a weak or sick bird will fall out of the group. The merlin hones in on the falling bird and like a speeding bullet
 catches it.

    I've seen this many times and it's always fascinating to watch.
  




    

27 comments:

  1. I've not seen waxwings around where we live in Oregon. I Texas we had many species of birds come to our back yard. Only one time did we have cedar waxwings. I was spellbound watching them. My first and last time to see them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Waxwings are very attractive birds.

      Delete
  2. We get cedar waxwings here, but I don't see them often. They are so beautiful.
    What a ring side seat you have to watching this wonder of nature. Watch out, waxwings! Merlin is on the move.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cedar waxwings are very quiet and tend to be in very small flocks.

      Delete
  3. Ack! Red! A little warning would be good, eh?! Yes, I KNOW it's nature. I know, I know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have it right that there isn't warning.

      Delete
  4. Well, I'm glad I'm not a waxwing! I've seen cedar waxwings in Florida. They can strip a holly tree of berries in no time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bohemians also strip berry tress very quickly.

      Delete
  5. I love our cedar waxwings. They are so lovey and love our holly berries. What an interesting experience to watch. I have seen a merlin here on very rare times, but the fly like fighter pilots!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cedar waxwings are very quiet gentle little birds.

      Delete
  6. I would love to see that happen, just once. But I still feel for the poor little waxwing who becomes lunch. You told the story well, Red. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure very few people see this as they're not watching for it.

      Delete
  7. Hi Red, Sounds like watching the Bohemian waxwings would be a lot of fun. And the Merlin seems to have it all figured out.

    ReplyDelete
  8. That is a large flock, I have never seen them here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very few go south of the Canadian border. My photo shows just a samal part of the flock.

      Delete
  9. I'm sure we've got them here. The merlin is quite a sight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. According to my info you don't have them in Ontario. Merlins you do have.

      Delete
  10. Birds don't usually hang out near my house, I rarely ever see a flock

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These birds wander in a very wide area.

      Delete
  11. Sad for the preyed upon, but everything needs to eat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Almost everything is somebody's prey

      Delete
  12. That's nature for you!
    I do love the waxwings. They are indeed gorgeous birds.

    ReplyDelete
  13. That's an amazing story. I've never seen a waxwing or a Merlin. I have seen a hawk swoop down in our yard and catch a beautiful Cardinal before. It was sad to hear the Cardinal's cries as the hawk flew off through the woods, and there was nothing I could do to help.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Waxwings come to the eastern side of Britain each winter. They arrive from Scandinavia but their numbers are in decline - as with most bird species.

    ReplyDelete
  15. It must be fascinating to watch such a situation... It may sound sad but it's natural. Waxwings seem to be quite big birds!

    ReplyDelete