Monday, December 10, 2007

Night roost of Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwing near Willow Rock

One chapter of Central Park in the Dark, entitled Birds Asleep, explores the various mysteries of bird sleep. Obviously Bob Levy, author of Club George, has a similar interest in the subject. In a report made a few days ago, he described his discovery of a flock of Cedar Waxwings who seemed to be settling in for the night in the Ramble:

At sunset I was observing a small newly formed flock of Northern Cardinals at Willow Rock in Central Park. I counted six males and three females but was unsure if I had found them all as the cardinals were extremely active. My concentration was interrupted by the arrival of another bird behind me in a small tree. It perched about four feet above my head. At first glance I assumed it was a sparrow but the tiny bits of yellow at the end of its tail compelled me to take a closer look. As it began to register in my mind that this had to be a Cedar Waxwing a few more arrived. They perched above and beside the first one. I quit counting cardinals and began counting Cedar Waxwings.
. . .

I found eight individuals but there may have been more too well hidden to be seen. As I continued to observe them they began to tuck their beaks under their wings and it appeared to me as if they were settling in to roost. Had I really found a Cedar Waxwing roost? I thought I might be interpreting the scene incorrectly. To find out for sure I decided to leave and come back later to see if the birds were still there. I walked to a nearby spot to look for a male Wood Duck that’s been cohabitating with a group of Mallards for the past couple of weeks. My streak of good luck continued. I found the Wood Duck, watched it forage with the Mallards and when I thought I’d waited long enough I returned to see if the waxwings were where I had left them. Bingo, there they were. Maybe you have to be a bird-watcher to understand how satisfying this was but it’s unexpected episodes like this that keep me coming back for more.

Cedar Waxwing, seen from below
Photos by Bob Levy