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Friday, April 5, 2013

Masked berry-eaters

A few quick images of Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) feeding on berries in the village of Salmon Creek today (5 April 2013).  They were a little shy, but since these are my first photos of Cedar Waxwings from this area, and they're such a pretty bird, I thought it would be fun to share a few images.

 

 

I photographed a few different individuals and it was interesting to note the variable amount of white along the upper and lower edge of the black mask.

 
 
If you're wondering about the name "waxwing," it comes from the small red wax-like tips on the secondary feathers of adult birds.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a great photo of that feature this morning, but here are two pictures that show the red tips (see below).  



Both males and females have red tips; both the number and size of the red tips increase with age; the red tips may play a role in mate choice and social organization (facts from the Birds of North America account).

And here's a trivia question.  There are only 3 species of waxwings in the world.  Can you name the other two?  (Answer below.)


Answer: The other two waxwings are the Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) and the Japanese Waxwing (Bombycilla japonica).   Bohemian Waxwings have been recorded in Sonoma County, but they're only accidental visitors, with the last observation in 2005 according to the Birds of Sonoma County.

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