Cedar Waxwing – A Solitary Gem

Yellow flashed like a flash of light, as a slender bird hawked an insect. It dropped to a high, bare oak branch, clear against the sky – an exquisite Cedar Waxwing. It sat facing the very low sun, with a sleek black mask and feathery cinnamon crest, its breast soft, velvety brown and belly pure smooth yellow, and the tip of its tail a glimmering yellow-gold. It appeared to be alone – I could hear or see no others around, though I think there must have been some, somewhere near. I stood watching it for several seconds, and it seemed maybe longer than it was, struck especially by the smooth, silky, polished look of its plumage.

Later, I looked for more information about Cedar Waxwing feathers and what gives their plumage this moth-smooth silky appearance, but so far I’ve found no explanation, though this distinctive look is often noted. This one was spectacular, especially because of the dramatic setting and lighting.

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