A Drop in the Bucket

Tuesday was a day of Cedar Waxwings.  Wing-loads of waxwings swooped into my garden, water features drawing them in for bathing, trees available for perching.

There were so many birds, it was almost overwhelming. These photos don’t tell the compete story–it was hard to get clear photos with so much activity–but they will give you an idea of the bunches of birds who bathed.

As I’m only adequate with a camera, clear group shots were challenging–at best. These birds rarely sit still and take off en masse when spooked by the slightest movement. I took most photos from indoors through *somewhat* clean windows, rather than becoming the cause of their frights and flights. When Cedar Waxwings visit, sidling outdoors, no matter how stealthily, elicits winged energy upwards and outwards from the garden.

Whoosh! Swoosh!!

So many waxwings…

Like many before them, the waxwings enjoyed the planter saucer for bathing and sipping.

The saucer, originally intended for my dog, mostly performs as a bird bath these days, with occasional slurping by racoons and opossums. Tuesday, it was all birds, all day.

In another part of the garden, this crowd awaited the arrival of Dear Leader.

Along a walkway,

…this bunch milled about, waiting for their turns,

…at this popular wet bar.

Tuesday was a wild day in the garden. Hundreds of these beauties descended on my garden, on and off throughout the morning–hanging out in trees, winging to the waters for swigs and splashes, and mingling with their mates.

Quiet moments happened.

Bird poop happened.

Cedar Waxwings will stay in Central Texas through mid-spring, munching fruit, seeking showers, and socializing with one another. Besides their visits to the popular water features, I expect that their next target in my garden will be the ripe berries on the Burford Holly.

When they come for the berries, I’ll get my hat!

A Brighter Shade of Yellow

As I looked out my windows on Snowy Sunday several weeks ago, I spied a visitor at the peanut feeder who wasn’t the usual yellow of an Orange-crowned Warbler, Leiothlypis celata. The new-to-me bird sported a brighter shade of yellow and belly streaking, reminiscent of the Orange-crown. The Pine Warbler is a lifer bird for me! Meet Mr. Pine Warbler, Setophaga pinus.

Pine Warblers spend their winters mostly in east and north Texas (as well as along the southeastern part of the US), but are rare birds here in Central Texas. Throughout their range, Pine Warblers prefer to hang out in pine trees which are found readily East Texas. While I haven’t seen the Pine Warbler at all this past week, for about ten days, he frequented the peanut, suet, and sunflower seed feeders.

According to Cornell’s site, Pine Warblers exhibit different digestive traits, depending upon their usual food sources. Those who eat mostly seeds have larger gizzards (where the hard-coated food is crushed) and require a longer time for digestion and those who primarily feed on fruit tend to develop longer intestines and digest more quickly. I’m guessing this handsome male is of the first variety, rather than second, because of his interest in what my feeders supply.

Until recently, I’d never seen a Pine Warbler in flesh and feathers, but I recognized him immediately. I’ve seen plenty of Pine Warbler photos posted on social media by bird-crazy Texans who live north and east of where I live. Reading birders’ posts and studying their often stunning photos has been a great learning tool for my backyard birding interest.

Are you charmed by this stare-n-glare face ? I am, even if he doesn’t look too pleased with the photographer.

What a good-lookin’ guy! Cheery plumage, streaked with grey on the belly, echoes grey coloring on the back and wings, and is highlighted by winsome white wing bars. He’s a well-dressed bird.

Pine Warblers are related to Yellow-rumped Warblers (‘Butter butts’) and, like previously mentioned, at a quick glance, look similar to Orange-crowned Warblers; both species winter in my garden every year. Maybe in the future, the Butter Butts and Orange-crowns will put out a good word to wintering Pines and encourage more of these sweet warblers to wing their way to my garden.