"Kay, can you come down here right now?" That was the hubby about noon today. Being the good wife, I immediately headed down the stairs, to be greeted with, "Do you have on shoes?" I did. "Come out here."
"Here" was our front yard and the reason for the urgency was a flock of at least two dozen Cedar Waxwings. The lovely birds were bouncing back and forth from our next door neighbors' shrubs to the big old oak tree across the street.
A couple landed, briefly, in a smaller oak right at the edge of our yard. One looked right at us, his crest up against the wind. Then, as if modeling an outfit, turned to show us the red tipped wings and finally the yellow-dipped tail feathers.
It was wonderfully unexpected sighting. We hadn't seen these birds in literally a decade. The first time was on a trip to western Massachusetts. The last was on a winter trip to Florida. And these guys just show up practically on our doorstep.
As with the Woodcock in our backyard last November, timing was everything. The hubby just happened to head out for a walk precisely when the Waxwings decided to take a lunch break in our neighborhood.
Still learning about Central Texas birds, we pulled out the Peterson guide to double check that we are within Waxwings' winter habitat; we are. A further check of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Web site informed us that during winter, Cedar Waxwings range independently of either their breeding range or where they spent the previous winter, so that explains why we didn’t see any last winter.
They wander so widely, continues the Lab, that it's hard to tell if the birds are simply out searching for food or if the travel is part of their prolonged seasonal migration. So maybe today we were just an avian truck stop for a quick meal.
I also found a March 2005 online post from a birder in Houston, a couple of hours southeast of us: "Small flock of Cedar Waxwings has been here for two days. These are the first Cedar Waxwings I've seen in my 30 something years in Texas. I must not have been in the right spot at the right time."
We know just how he feels. Will "our" Waxwings still be here tomorrow or the day after? Who knows. We're just glad our timing was opportune earlier today.
Waxwing photo courtesy ofWaxwing photo courtesy of Ken Thomas via Wikimedia Commons.