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