Courting Cedar Waxwings
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!