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December 06, 2016
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‘Singing’ for their supper

“Waxy” opens wide in anticipation of a meal. Cedar waxwings are named for the red, wax-like tips on the wing feathers of the adult birds. According to the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, cedar waxwings are among the tamest of birds and are very gregarious, which proved true for Waxy.

September 15, 2011

The first few months of life present many challenges for wild creatures, not the least of which is receiving adequate sustenance to survive. Baby birds are particularly fetching as they gape with beaks open wide in anticipation of a meal. Where that meal comes from depends on circumstances.

For the barn swallows depicted here, the parent birds were supplying adequate nourishment. But for the cedar waxwing, who was found as a tiny baby on the ground during a yard cleanup, my parents became its surrogate meal suppliers. After researching the nutritional needs of the bird and administering the gruel for several weeks, “Waxy” was growing stronger. As wild blueberries ripened in the yard, the fledgling was transitioned to these and other berries.

The day came when it was time to test Waxy’s readiness to take wing. Several semi-successful attempts were followed by one during which Waxy joined the local flock of waxwings. For nearly a week, the sociable little bird made occasional visits to receive hand-fed treats. Finally, it permanently joined the flock, which has since begun its journey to warmer climes—a satisfying ending for all.