EDITOR’S NOTE: Please welcome our newest columnist, Neil Ball, who will share photos and profiles of local birds that he’s seen and studied in our area.

By Neil Ball

The first time you see a Cedar Waxwing through binoculars, you may wonder why this has not been your favorite bird all your life.

They have a stark and well-defined color on the face, a smooth transition from the brown neck to the yellow belly, flashes of red on the wings and a splash of yellow on the tail. And if all of that wasn’t enough, they have a killer hairdo. Truly, they are a sight to behold.

Cedar Waxwings are normally vegans, but they may eat a bug or two when no one is watching. If you have a Mountain Ash tree in your yard, you have been visited by the waxwings. In the fall when the bright red ash berries are ripe, a flock of waxwings can strip it clean in no time at all. If the berries are a little over ripe, they tend to ferment on the tree. Watching the Cedar Waxwings tipsy on fermented ash berries is comical.

The Cedar Waxwings are a social bird that hang out in large extended family flocks. They have been seen grooming each other and passing food down a line of birds so that everyone gets a helping. But the young birds can get to be a little demanding. As seen in the picture, the young waxwing was begging Mom for food. Mom looks like she needs her five minutes of peace.

Neil Ball was born in Kansas and came to the Puget Sound area when Boeing transferred his father here from Florida. He is a Highline High School alum who has lived in the south Puget Sound area since 1971 with a few breaks for his stint in the Navy and an overseas assignment from Boeing.

Birding became a hobby about 40 years ago. Since then, he has recorded seeing 595 of the 9712 species of birds in the world on his life list.

Clearly, he needs to get out more.


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