Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings in Rosemary Beach, Florida, USA.

Cedar Waxwings in Rosemary Beach, Florida, USA. Photo © Tom Bland.

This post comes from the panhandle of Florida where we have just arrived for a one week stay. We were looking forward to whatever nature sightings came our way on this trip, and I just wanted to share my most enjoyable of them all so far – cedar waxwings!

Growing up in the north east of England waxwings were a rarity, and as a result they became one of my favourite must-see birds. Until an amazing close-hand sighting in New Jersey during 2012, I think I’d only ever glimpsed a waxwing once, and that memory is as blurred as it probably was in reality – on that occasion I seem to remember I’d spotted a flock from the car. This morning we enjoyed watching a flock of cedar waxwings in a tree for just a few seconds before they flew off to hunt for another place to devour berries. We hoped they’d return, and sure enough late in the afternoon we came home to find them back in the same tree we saw them in earlier. What was particularly interesting for me is that I heard what I thought was the careering shriek of swifts. I wasn’t sure if there would be any swifts here this time of year but I looked up to scan the skies anyway, and no swifts were to be seen. Diana then spotted that the waxwings were back, and I realised I’d never actually heard waxwings. After later consulting Smithsonian Handbooks’ Birds of Florida the information for cedar waxwings does indeed say that their call is a “thin high pitched zeeee or zeeeet” – and they were right, and now I know that waxwings sound like swifts!

My only regret is that we don’t yet have a telephoto lens as I would have been able to capture a rather special portrait of these waxwings in the afternoon sun. I do like this shot of them taking off though, and fingers crossed they’ll be around for the rest of our stay…

Cedar Waxwings in Rosemary Beach, Florida, USA (detail).

Cedar Waxwings in Rosemary Beach, Florida, USA (detail). Photo © Tom Bland.

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