Canadian photographer R. John Knight shares the stories behind some of his nature and wildlife images

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Surprise Grab, Fly and Eat Visit by Cedar Waxwings

Yesterday, about 3-4 dozen Cedar Waxwing birds paid a surprise visit to the Crab Apple tree in our backyard.  They do this each year, and visit either our Crab Apple tree, &/or our neighbor's Mountain Ash tree.  We never know when or if they will appear, but when they do, what a treat.  They are interesting to watch, and have such beautiful coloring and distinctive markings.

Grabbing a Crab Apple
When they arrive, they come en masse as a flock.  They descend into our tree, grabbing an apple from one branch or another, then quickly disappear into the treetops of nearby Spruce to eat.  A few minutes later, the flock reappears and they repeat their fly-in, grab and fly-off routine that only takes a few seconds.  They do this, perhaps a half dozen times, and then are gone until next year. 

Cedar Waxwings are challenging to photograph.  First, your camera needs to be nearby and ready to go because you don't know when or if they might arrive during mid to late winter, and certainly not the day, or the hour.  Second, you need to use a relatively high ISO and shutter speed because they never seem to sit still.  And third, they stay for such a short time, take what images you can, and enjoy the moment.

Beautiful and distinctive markings of Cedar Waxwing

     Proper Name: Bombycilla cedrorum
     Diet:  specialize in eating fruit, particularly during the summer,
          supplemented with berries from cedar, juniper and other scrub bushes,
          and insects and budworms
     Wing Span: 8.7–11.8 in (22–30 cm)
     Body Size: 5.5–6.7 in (14–17 cm)
     Height:  75 to 100 cm
     Weight:  1.1 oz (32 g)
     Habitat: deciduous, coniferous, and mixed woodlands, particularly areas
          along streams; also find them in old fields, grasslands, sagebrush, and
          even along desert washes
     Range:  southern Canada from coast to coast during the summer (breeding)
          to Central America and northern Southern America during the winter

Grabbing a Crab Apple before heading to nearby Spruce to eat it


  1. Good Morning John;

    These pictures look like a painting - just superb.

    John & I always enjoy your updated posts.

    John and I have travelled a lot in our FWC, that we purchased in Aug. 2011.
    Two days ago on Friday evening, we returned from a quick trip to California.
    Again, thank you for showing us your camper.

    Here is wishing you and Sherrill all the best.



  2. Good to hear from you, Ruth. It's great to hear that you are enjoying your FWC. All the best, John

  3. These are fabulous pictures John! What a treat you had, and you were obviously ready for "the moment"!! Thanks for the facts about the birds too. Last week we watched some Robins in our backyard, and we were pretty sure they were wishing they had not come back so soon! Too wintery out there for comfort!

  4. Thanks Marilyn. They are such a join to see each year, even for the few moments that they are here.

    All the best,