Cedar Waxwings

In the old field this morning, a small flock of maybe two dozen Cedar Waxwings sat almost hidden in a tangle of faded vines and shrubs around two chinaberry trees and some other kind of wild fruit tree. This part of the field is very dense with huge stands of privet and other dry-looking shrubs and weeds that grow much taller than my head. The Cedar Waxwings were eating berries in trees near the roadside, so their movements caught my attention – and with a closer look, their polished, gleaming shapes and colors glowed in contrast to the rough, drab thickets around them. The sound of traffic from the highway not far away made their high, thin calls very hard to hear.

Many of them sat very close and not too high, and the day was clear and softly sunny. So the view was especially fine. Slender, crested birds, each one impeccably dressed – a fox-brown crest and head with a sleek black mask outlined in white; short brown neck blending into taupe on the chest and back, and lemon-yellow belly; gray wings barely touched with red; and a gray tail tipped in yellow, as if it had been dipped in paint. 

It’s impossible really to describe the colors just right, or to capture the subtle blend of different textures. It’s like studying a great painting closely, and the more you look, the more details and exquisite touches you find. 

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