Wednesday, February 1, 2017


      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.