I shared my best single shot of this courting pair of Cedar Waxwings offering an apple petal to each other…but I took more than 50 shots at 3 frames per second as they passed the petals back and forth several times while I watched. This is one sequence. (It reads left to right then down and left to right again.) I am not sure why the female is “puffed out” but it seems to be part of the ritual. Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve) in Wells, Maine. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
I rode my ebike down to Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve) yesterday to see if I could find any Jack-in-the-pulpit in bloom. I did not, not there, though they are in bloom near the headquarters buildings at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge just up the road. While hiking the boardwalk loop at Laudholm I encountered my first Cedar Waxwings of the season for southern Maine…just a few, in the very tops of the trees…but as I hiked on and turned to come up through the old apple orchards…full of blossoming apple and crab-apple trees…I found more and more waxwings. I had to keep revising my estimate up, but I am convinced there were at least 100, maybe 150, Cedar Waxwings feeding in the apple blossoms. They were all around me, sometimes two dozen or more in a single tree.
I was not far into the Cedar Waxwing experience when a pair landed right in front of me on a low branch. Each had an apple blossom in its beak, and I got to watch as they apparently passed the petals back and forth for several moments. At the very least they were offering the petals to each other. I had never seen that behavior, obviously courting behavior between a pair, before, and found it fascinating. I took a lot of photos, and came home feeling totally blessed to been in the right place at the right time.
When I showed this photo to Carol, she immediately remembered seeing another like it on Facebook already within the past 24 hours. Some searching around found not one, but three other recent photos all taken…from Maine to Michigan…of Cedar Waxwings offering petals…Dogwood and Apple…to each other. A forth appeared in my stream shortly after my search. And who knows how many were posted by people I don’t know. Cleary this behavior is synchronized with the bloom of large white showy flowering trees, and evidently they are, at least this year, all in bloom at the same time across the north east quadrant of the country.
So, as it turns out, this is just my contribution to the courting, petal passing, Cedar Waxwing show. I still feel privileged to have seen it…to have been in the right place at the right time…but I now know myself to only one a small select group of people all across the country to have this experience on the same day. How special is that!
It is rare, these days, to see a Red Squirrel in Southern Maine. They are here, of course, as they always have been, but their bolder, more adaptable, Grey cousins certainly dominate the landscape. The Reds have retreated. Or so it seems. Being highly territorial, with one female per territory, and heavily dependent on conifer cone seeds, in a mixed landscape like Southern Maine, they have always been restricted to appropriate habitat. Maybe I just don’t get to where they are very often. At any rate, I was surprised to see not one, but two, Red Squirrels along the Kennebunk Bridle Trail when I was last there looking for dragonflies. And, even more surprised to see them mating…right there in the trail…out in plain sight…and totally oblivious to my intrusion. In fact, they were so busy that I eventually walked to within 10 feet of them, taking photos all the way. I have lots of stills and two snippets of video. I finally had to walk by them to get home, and I was within 4 feet of them before they bolted. Since female Red Squirrels are promiscuous, and generally have a dozen partners in pursuit, this gentleman squirrel was making the most of having her all to himself.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom. 600mm equivalent. Processed in Snapseed on my tablet.
It is not hard to observe mating behavior at the Smith’s Oaks rookery on High Island Texas. Just stand at one of the overlooks in April for few moments and you are bound to see some mating action. This pair of Spoonbills had not started a nest yet but were clearly contemplating one. If they had gotten that far in their thinking. If they were thinking.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom. 600mm equivalent. Again, I had the camera in my preprogrammed “flight” mode and did not have time switch back. 1/400th @ f8 @ ISO 200. Processed in Snapseed on my tablet. Assembled in Pixlr Express.