Cedar Waxwings in Mistletoe and a Flock of Red-winged Blackbirds

January leaves us on a characteristic note – cold, gray, and bleak, with rain expected tonight. All day, a strong wind has rattled the dry brown leaves that still cling to the white oaks, swept through the hollies and wax myrtles, tossed the pines, ruffled the feathers of birds, and made the bare limbs of the hardwoods creak and moan. Early this morning was cold enough so that water in the bird baths was frozen solid again, though by midday most of it had melted, and the clouds broke for an hour or two, leaving a pale blue sky veiled in white and gray.

This was the most pleasant part of the day, still cold and windy, but graced with a pearl-gray light, with hints of color and iridescence. As I walked through the neighborhood around noon, small flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers, mixed with Chipping Sparrows and Bluebirds fed along the roadside and out in the middle of the road. I heard the songs of a Pine Warbler and a House Finch, the call of a Northern Flicker, and saw one Phoebe in a tree and one Black Vulture soaring.

As I passed below a large old oak, I heard the calls of Cedar Waxwings, but it took me a while to find them. The branches of the tree looked bare and empty. The Cedar Waxwings were scattered around in several large clumps of Mistletoe, almost hidden among its leaves, feeding on the berries.

On my way back home, I could hear a large flock of Blackbirds from some distance away. They were spread out over a wide area in the top branches of bare trees, and there may have been as many as three hundred or more. Among them were many Red-winged Blackbirds, as well as Common Grackles and Rusty Blackbirds, all together much noisier than our usual flock of Rusty Blackbirds are alone.

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