Thursday, August 11, 2011

Relaxing with a Waxwing

Watercolor of Cedar Waxwing   © 2011 Sally Wickham

The last days of July settle me comfortably into summer.  Frogs strum lazily  on their guitars; two fledgling robins hop about the lawn in wide-eyed wonder; a young bluebird drifts down from the spruce to retrieve a bug, and then flies back up to her favorite perch again and again and again.  Swarms of swallows (barn and tree) chitter-chatter while practicing their amazing   aerial maneuvers.  

I woke up luxuriously late this morning and decided to have my toast, jelly and Birds and Blooms coffee on the back step of the house facing north.  A large maple tree shades the lawn and house and I noticed intermittent bird activity in the branches above me.  There is wing flapping—leaves rustling—but I can’t see what is going on.  The two rainiest months on record in Vermont (April and May, 2011) produced a bountiful crop of big healthy green leaves that are hard to see through.  Then I notice one  long strand of dried hay  hanging down.  At almost the same moment I catch sight of the warm brown and yellowish tones of a Cedar Waxwing.  Could she be building a nest this late in the season?

By the following day I can see a  bulky nest made of dried grasses and twigs about fifteen feet  up in the branches of the maple tree. Several strands of dried loose hay hang down from the bottom.  I now know that the Cedar Waxwing is a late nester, like the American Goldfinch and the Mourning Dove.  They sometimes wait until August to raise their young and then raise a second brood! 

I have a good view of the nest from the big overstuffed sofa in the TV room. It is just high enough for me peer through the leaves and see the nest.  I happily anticipate the hatching of three to five bluish gray, spotted eggs.  I open the window, spread out with a couple of pillows, and begin a brand new horizontal bird watching experience :}>

Birdwords by Linda Lunna ©  2011

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