About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bohemian Waxwings with a few Cedar Waxwings thrown in


Mixed flock Bohemian Waxwings with
a few Cedar Waxwings thrown in.
About a week ago, someone was across the street, searching the trees with his binoculars; me being basically nosey, asked him what he was looking for, and he said there had been reports of Bohemian Waxwings in this area (Rose Lake, MI).  I said, "Oh, yeah, scads of them -- "Then I realized he was talking about Bohemian, not Cedar. After we figured that out, he said that they'd been reported in mixed flocks, and that they summer to the north.  I wished him luck, and he went on his way.

Today I was outside playing with my camera, and I heard the "purr" that says Waxwings are in the neighborhood. Took a while to locate the flock, way up in the top of a cottonwood, and then I started taking photos. Thru the lens I was able to see that, not only were Bohemian Waxwings a part of the flock, but they were easily the majority of the flock. So I guess I was right when I said there were "scads of them."

The pictures aren't great -- the tree was very tall, and of course they were at the very top -- but you can tell what you're looking at.  So I'm hoping that you will post the pics on your blog, and hopefully the man who was here last week will read this and come back.  Thanks! ~ Lynn

A pair that looks like maybe it would like to be 'a pair' –
at least until the Bohemian leaves for the north.

This was so nice of you to share your rare bird sighting! According to the Birds of Michigan field guide, the Bohemian Waxwings nest in northern forests in Alaska and western Canada, and visit Michigan only during winter in search of food.

In most years, Bohemians are only seen in small groups, usually intermingled with overwintering flocks of the similar-looking Cedar Waxwings. However, their shorter tail and chestnut colored undertail coverts distinguish them readily from the Cedar Waxwings' white undertail.

The Bohemian Waxwing is an irruptive species. As their name suggests, they lead a nomadic lifestyle and move around based on where they can locate food. So when you hear the high pitched trill of the Cedar Waxwings, listen for the rougher and lower pitched call of the Bohemian Waxwing.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about birds, but there is a way to help personally. The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is an annual four-day event beginning the third weekend in February that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds you see in your area to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are all around the world. Anyone can participate. It’s easy, free, fun, and can take as little as 15 minutes.

From the past bird counts, researchers at Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology have an unprecedented wealth of data to create a snapshot of bird distribution and the effects of weather. Food availability may be the primary factor influencing some species’ winter ranges, but snow cover may also play a role. The longer data is collected, the more meaningful it becomes in helping scientists investigate far-reaching questions, like:

• How will the weather influence bird populations?
• Why do irruptive species appear in large numbers during some years but not others?
• How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years?
• How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions?
• What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas?

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