Welcome to the Island Rambles Blog

Welcome to my blog world. This is a photo blog, poetry and short story blog about my life on Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada. I take photos of the birds and scenery I find. I hope you enjoy your time here and please come back again. PHOTOS WILL ENLARGE IF CLICKED. The photos are slide show enabled if you click on them. If you click on the top lighthouse photo it always takes you to the most recent summary list of my postings. I am also at my Facebook Page Island Rambles or Islandrambles at YouTube.


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Monday, December 16, 2013

Waxwings in Winter

Today it is Waxwings.  We have the Cedar Waxwings here where I live.  I love the rakish black mask they have like little bandits.  They also have these amazing brilliant red waxy droplets or secretions on the wings. The young birds don't have them and the males are most likely to have them.  Perhaps it is to attract a female.

The waxwings that have orange not the yellow tail tips, this is from the red color they pick up from feeding for a length of time on certain berries, such as those of the honeysuckle or from the carotenoid pigments in the diet.

The waxwing is one of the few birds here that can survive on fruit alone for a while.  So if a cow bird plops an egg in their nest the baby will not survive on this diet.

Sometimes the waxwings will get drunk on so much overripe berries.
It takes the female waxwing five or six days to make her nest.  She is the one to pick the nest site and she sometimes is a little bit sneaky by stealing stuff from other birds nests to make her own nest a little quicker.  Who can blame her for that.

They normally live for five years.  The oldest one on record was around 8 years, 2 months old in captivity.

These birds appear to be a little drunk and sleepy.

When courting the males and females like to square dance.  They hop toward each other going back and forth and they touch their bills together.  The males like to pass small gifts to the chosen female such as fruit, flowers, berries or dragonflies.  The female will hop away and then hop back and return the gift but then decides as all females do that she just must have it and snatches it back and eats it.
And if she just does not like that guy she won't dance with him.
I did a post on this a few months ago here is a link to it.

Waxwings are very social and have a funny habit of sitting all on a long branch and if the bird at the top can reach a berry it will pass the berry down the line to the other birds. Sometimes they do this with apple blossoms.  They love to share and to be in groups and to give gifts.  And they talk a lot also.  What a great bird to hang out with.

This bird above has the wax on its wings.

The adults store fruit, as much as 30 cherries, in a crop pouch in their throat and then regurgitate the cherries or other fruit into the awaiting nestlings.  The male will sometimes develop a little brood patch and help the female with incubation, usually he will sit above and pretend to be on guard.

I took these photos above a few weeks ago out on Martindale Road. Here are a few shots I took in the summer of the Waxwings passing a dragonfly back and forth.

These photos above were taken with a little point and shoot, Panasonic FZ200.  Since I can't hold the Canon gear I have anymore I am thinking of switching all to Panasonic now.  I think I pulled a muscle in my arm holding my freaking 4 lb Canon lens. It is really hard to give up on my gear though.

That is it for now.  I am doing something really different next week and bloggers you are involved in it so check back with me to see.

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Click on these links to find great blogs and photos.

The Bird D'pot Thank you Anni
Our World Tuesday Thank you Our World Team
Sweet Shot Tuesday Thank you Kent
ABC Wednesday Thank you Denise, Roger and Team
Nature Notes Wednesday Thank you Michelle
Outdoors Wednesday Thank you Susan
Wild Bird Wednesday Thank you Stewart

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  1. That berry just looks too big for its mouth. Great shots.

  2. What terrific captures!! They're like having those waxwings right outside my window! Beautiful! Thanks for sharing! Hope you have a lovely week!!

  3. I know... I can't carry my canon at all, but these are wonderful photos. I love waxwings. I had better go write my post for NN...... Michelle

  4. They are some lovely images Nora.
    We are hoping we will get a visit from the Waxwings (Bohemian type) from Scandinavia this Winter again, but it depends on how much natural food they have there. There is some info that there was a bumper harvest of berries in there Summer areas and they may not come.

  5. Awesome series of shots on the Waxwings! They are one of my favorites and are beautiful birds! Have a happy week!

  6. I love the Waxwings and their silky look.

  7. The red berries set them off to great advantage. They are such sleek little birds.and look so well in the dapple light.

  8. Great photos of the Waxwings and all those berries. I also like the last series where they are passing the dragonfly between themselves. Very interesting bird behavior.

  9. Nora as always great shots! So jealous - they only come thru our area and had 2 visit my raspberry patch for a short time this summer. Never could get shots of them as they were so skittish so I sure appreciate yours.

  10. These are beautiful photos. I think they are gorgeous birds and I would love to see them. I think the female cardinal looks a little like a waxwing.

  11. How interesting!
    Nice to see the bird feeding on ripe fruits. Lovely colorful captures.

  12. Anonymous11:29 pm

    What marvellous shots!

  13. Oh my...such a wonderful collection/share of the waxwings. They're so beautiful...and you've captured them perfectly.

  14. Anonymous5:21 am

    Lovely waxwing photos, one of our favourite birds that arrive to eat all the honeysuckle berries when they are in season.
    Canon has a new lighter dslr camera out which might suit your needs. I haven't held it yet so don't know how light it is, but I know what you are saying about the big lenses. I have a nice Nikon with 42x zoom that takes amazing photos.

  15. The cedar waxwing is one of my favorite birds! You got some terrific photos of them. They do love their berries and you certainly got them in their element. :)

  16. Oh Norah, this is so wonderful. I love cedar waxwings, was lucky enough to see them feeding each other once...but it has been way too long since I've seen any at all. . Thank you so much for sharing .. and I learned more about them than I've ever known before.

  17. Gorgeous WBW post!
    Well done!

  18. Fascinating. We don't have waxwings here. I sure wish we did. I love that they are such social birds. Terrific photos too.

  19. Most interesting bird!

  20. Love, love, love those Waxwings!

  21. Beautiful shots - make me yearn for WARM WEATHER...if these birds can get drunk on the berries, can they still fly?

    abcw team

  22. Lovely, lovely photos!

  23. Beautiful bird shot!

  24. Gorgeous birds beautifully photographed! I had to chuckle when you said they sometimes get drunk on the berries, that would "ground" them I would think!

  25. I love the waxwings. They didn't stay here long before they moved on. Take care!

  26. wonderful images. They are such pretty birds.

  27. mega jealous as we haven't had many visit the UK this winter, A single bird was seen close to my home a few weeks ago but soon disappeared... Lovely post

  28. Looks like there are still a lot of berries around for them to enjoy. I haven't seen any over on our side of the strait. - Margy

  29. hi. You shots look good, be careful of your arm. you are so fortunate to have these birds and such great views of them. We are hoping they visit us this year, perhaps January.

  30. Fantastic photos! Crystal clear.
    Hope you are having a great holiday season...


Hi! Thanks so much for visiting my blog on Vancouver Island Nature and Birds. I love to take photos of places we go to on Vancouver Island and the birds and animals we see. I love also to get comments so please leave a note for me. Cheers and thanks again. Nora
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