Monday, December 1, 2008

A Bird of Peace

We're lucky that birds aren't really, really big. A number of species wouldn't hesitate to eat you if they could. Especially a lot of those more primitive, steely-eyed nonpasserines. If a Great Blue Heron was twelve feet tall, it would auger into you with that stiletto of a bill without a nanosecond of thought wasted.

Take the Sharp-shinned Hawk. Possibly not a more testosterone-filled, feather-clad ball of aggression exists. If these things were the size of a Piper Cub aircraft, we'd all be dead. Possessed of the fighting skills of Mike Tyson and the cunning savagery of Ghengis Khan, they also maneuver with the aerial skills of the Red Baron. We'd be tasty to them, and they'd have us for lunch.

Great Black-backed Gull? Swallow you whole, just like a gizzard shad, if it could.

Yes, it's lucky for us that they are small and we are big.

But some birds are the polar opposite of the primitive killers, and I encountered just such a species over the weekend.

I don't know how often Cedar Waxwings come into close proximity with Wood Storks, but if and when they do, I suspect these suave, debonair songbirds are thoroughly disgusted. But in a polite way. They'd never show their distaste at the oafish brutes as they wallow through the muck, churning about with those enormous bills and snapping up slime-coated crayfish. Then, of all things, defecating on their legs as they rest in the oozy mire. Nope, this sort of behavior is not for the waxwing - not one bit of it. I suspect the cedars whisper to each other behind spread wing: "Ooh! Buffy! Don't look - that old chap just evacuated on himself!" "Clarence! Really! These primitives are quite too much - let's retreat to the hawthorns!"

If there is a charm school for birds, Cedar Waxwings aced all the courses. Their pleasant manners and sleek plumage are a delight to behold, and the sheer civility of waxwings far eclipses most birds. Quite social, they are rarely seen solo, and engage in berry parties, twittering about the fruit-bearing trees all the while emitting ever so soft and mannerly lisping notes. Squabbles are rare, and in the event of an unfortunate disagreement, amends are no doubt promptly made.

They even pass berries down the line and feed each other, for shrike's sake! What in the world would a Cooper's Hawk think? Well, not much, probably. It'd just make a meal of 'em.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, cedars are charmers. Whenever I'm asked, I have to say my favorite bird is the waxwing. I'm thinking about another bird too. Something golden perhaps. For next month down at the Wilds. Hope we can make it. Happy Holidays
Dawn Z.