Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cedar Waxwings and Blackbirds

Not long before sundown on this last day of January, twenty-one Cedar Waxwings glowed like small yellow lanterns hung in the bare branches at the very top of a tall oak. All facing the west and catching the last light of the day, they made a striking picture that felt like a fitting farewell to a long, cold, often dark gray month. All through January, the Waxwings have been among our most characteristic winter birds, seeming to be almost everywhere, often bringing vivid, elegant spots of color and movement and sound to gloomy days.

Today, though, was sunny and windy, chilly, but not cold. A large flock of several hundred Blackbirds streamed through the trees late this afternoon, looking like a cloud that went on and on, settling and moving in wave after wave, and making quite a bit of noise. All I could see or hear were Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles, and these, too, have been a common part of January here. I couldn’t get close enough to them to look for Rusty Blackbirds among them, but we haven’t had the regular flock of Rusties this year that we often saw last winter.

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