A Moment Together, a Memory Made 18 November 2012
Just ten years ago, my back yard was an empty, barren patch of monoculture grass. It was a typical, hot, boring yard. I worked hard to change that, planting white oak, red maple, tamarack, paper birch, yellow birch, river birch, red osier dogwood, winterberry holly, dogwood, white pine, white spruce, raspberry, and sugar maple. Two walnut trees and an American elm have arrived on their own, the walnuts with thanks to the forgetful neighborhood squirrels. Just ten years later, my birches are taller than the house, and I have two spectacular woodlots in the corners of my yard. My yard is now a bird photography studio. At last count, 79 species of birds had visited my yard. Pardon the shameless pun, but my yard has really taken flight.
Today, my son discovered a waxwing in the yard. It was wild and free, but, perhaps something it ate, it wasn't very alert. Where I have seen tame waxwings along Lake Superior's North shore, this one was too tame. While it appeared to be in perfect condition, it seemed disoriented and wasn't able to fly away. Sometimes waxwings eat fermented berries, and sometimes they get a toxic dose from their food. Perhaps this was the case.
I photographed the little Cedar Waxwing at length, taking advantage of every moment, every perch, and every favorable ray of light. When all was done, we thanked the bird in a most appropriate way. I defrosted some blueberries, got them to room temperature, and we fed the waxwing! A berry is a berry, whether in the hand or on the twig. This waxwing didn't hesitate to swallow down four big Michigan blueberries. A little while later, it took two more. Not sure if this little bird will survive, but we are thankful to have crossed paths with it.
The Cedar Waxwing is named for its love of diminutive cedar cones as food and for the waxy "drops" that are present on the secondary flight feathers of birds in breeding condition.
I made these images with a Canon 300mm f4, IS lens and a Canon 40D. When planning a landscape, water feature or bird feeder with bird photography in mind, don't forget to study the light! A landscape artist can maximize the available light and quality of light with strategic placement of feeders and strategic plantings. Good Luck!