Friday, April 10, 2009

If You Plant It, They Will Come

Eight years ago, this spring, I began landscaping our property. Being on four acres, I wanted badly to attract wildlife. I also wanted to see that wildlife---primarily birds and butterflies.
Birds need three things. Food, water, shelter/nesting. The two things I planted specifically for fruit eating birds were yaupon holly and pyracantha. I got never ending visits from mockingbirds to these bushes. In fact, one set up camp in one bush and would fuss at anyone or anything that came near.

What I really wanted to have visit was Cedar Waxwings. I grew up in Missouri, but had never seen one until I moved to Houston. I remember hearing a high pitched 'twee, twee, twee' and following the sound to a neighbor's holly. The little birds covered their bush.

They were the most perfect bird I'd ever seen. Their feathers are so perfectly aligned that it looks as though they don't have feathers---much like a penguin. Gray, and brown. Black masked like a bandit. Mask outlined in white. Tail dipped in bright yellow paint. Wingtips dipped in molten red wax. Soft yellow belly. As I got closer, they flew away. 'Twee, twee, twee'

Every year, they come through here on their way to their nesting areas in the northern United States. I hear them and stop what I'm doing. "Will they stop? Will they see my bushes?" Never in 8 years have they stopped---at least while I was around. Until yesterday!

I heard their familiar call and went outside. I couldn't believe my eyes. I turned right around and went in for Lee's camera that has a zoom lens. Back outside, I held my breath and began shooting.
More and more of the little flock dropped out of the Live Oak tree into the Yaupon Holly. It was obvious that devouring berries as fast as possible, was far more important than the lady with the camera.
I have never been so grateful for a zoom lens as I was yesterday.
Here a few stop to make sure I'm not a bird-eating monster before they head back to inhaling berries.

Soon the bush was covered. Birds hanging in impossible positions. Poking at each other if space was invaded. After some 50 pictures, I figured I might have gotten a good one or two, so I went inside. After taking a look at them on the computer, I decided I wanted a really good shot of just one bird. I went back outside, and of course, they were gone.
Now that they know where the bush is, I hope they'll be back. I hope I'm around to see them. Hopefully it won't be another 8 years.

Please don't forget you can click on the pictures to see them closer.


  1. We had them come in one time in Delaware. It was amazing! They swarmed the tree for about 30 minutes and then they were gone. We just got lucky to see them that one time. I'm not sure we got any decent pictures. Yours are great!

  2. They're beautiful! Glad you got to see them at last.