Cedar Waxwings [Belle Isle, Detroit]

Cedar Waxwings are named for the red, wax-like tips extending from their wing. They are about the size of a Northern Cardinal, but are a beautiful gray color which  lightens to a pale yellow as you descend down the belly. They have an unusual silky texture and look as soft as flower petals. Very Lovely birds.

See the waxy wing tips? Once thought to be used for feather protection, researchers theorize that they play an important part in mate selection — the number of waxy quills corresponds with age (older = more quills) which corresponds with reproductive success. Female birds tend to pick similarly-aged mates.

Picking petals

Sentinel pose

Sharing blossom petals

Slightly closer together

During courtship, mating pairs will pass objects back and forth, such as berries or flower petals — this Waxwing pair was passing little crabapple apple blossom petals back and forth, although they were not hopping towards and away from each other, another notable characteristic of Waxwing courtship behavior.

Good luck to these Cedar Waxwings on Belle Isle who have made a home on the jewel of Detroit River.

While I was taking pictures of Waxwings, this Eastern Phoebe looked on curiously… so of course, I had to get a picture of it, too.

Read more about Cedar Waxwings at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center website.



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