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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

June 26, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Cedar waxwings: the sound of summer

As the symphony of spring birds begins to fade with the breeding season wrapping up, Puget Sound birders can take solace in Cedar waxwings.

These beautiful native birds are the sounds of our summer days. Give them a listen, here on Seattle Audubon’s BirdWeb.

Especially come August, when most of the other locals have quieted down, the waxwings continue their sweet, high pitched sound. Flute-like, a bit melancholy, their song is the soundtrack of a quiet summer afternoon in the lowlands of Puget Sound.

While their s-reee song is subtle — no wren aria here — their beauty is outlandish. With a flash of red on the tips of their wings, brilliant yellow on the ends of the tail, a deep soft buff breast and jaunty mask — what style.

Cedar waxwings grace our summer days.  Photo by Mark Harrison, Seattle Times staff photographer, at Magnuson Park June 24, 2013

Cedar waxwings grace our summer days.
Photo by Mark Harrison, Seattle Times staff photographer, at Magnuson Park June 24, 2013

Abundant and seen everywhere from city parks to roadsides, waxwings love to feast on ripe fruit and nest later than other local birds to take advantage of ripening berries. Here is a lovely piece on BirdNote about their penchant for fruit.

Waxwings are communal feeders, and make their soft sounds mostly to keep track of each other in the flock. Watching them on a branch, passing fruit back and forth, bill to bill, is one of of summer’s pleasures.

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