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Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing, victim of a window strike, Franklin County, Ohio, May 27, 2011. My brother Mike tipped me to this waxwing, which had struck the building in which he works, and I took the opportunity to make some photos of the unfortunate waxwing. Scores of birds are killed in building collisions each year.

We always experience a late pulse of migrant Cedar Waxwings towards May's end, and flocks frequent the ornamental trees around the buildings where I work, picking over remnant fruits from the previous season. This birds lacks the telltale "wax wings"; the shiny reddish feather tips on the wings which gives the species its name. This means it is a first-year bird - it takes Cedar Waxwings two years to develop their namesake field mark.

The trademark dipped in yellow ink tail, up close. Waxwings are without doubt among our most suave and dapper animals. They give the appearance of impeccable grooming and classy dress, and possess a manners and a civility far beyond most other birds.

The lemony-yellow belly grades into soft brownish and gray tones - a most pleasing overall effect.

A waxwing's fawn-colored head is accented with a crisp black mask and throat, and capped with a neat sleeked back crest.Note the bill, which is an effective tool for gutting fruits and berries. For much of the year, waxwings are frugivorous - fruit-eaters.

While it's a shame that this Cedar Waxwing had to perish because of a shiny window, it did offer an opportunity for us to closely examine its intricate details. It'll eventually become a museum specimen and thus should be of use to researchers in the future.

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