Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

They’re here again

with 45 comments

On January 11th I spotted my first cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) of the season. It was on the trunk of the Ashe juniper tree right outside my window, adjacent to two fruit-laden yaupon trees (Ilex vomitoria). On January 19th I saw several cedar waxwings nibbling a bit of the fruit on the farther tree. Finally on January 20th at least a dozen cedar waxwings kept swooping in and out for a while as they grabbed fruits on the nearer tree. Whenever one of the birds landed in a place not blocked from view by branches I could finally try for pictures, which I did with my telephoto lens zoomed to its maximum 400mm. The dull light and the not-as-clear-as-I’d-have-liked glass in the window led me to spend more time than usual enhancing the image, first in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop, then in Topaz Photo AI.



§       §       §



“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” ― Galileo Galilei, letter to the Grand Duchess Christina. 


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 26, 2023 at 4:25 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

45 Responses

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  1. I love this photo! I have never seen that bird up close! Or maybe at all… Thank you!!

    Rei Clearly

    January 26, 2023 at 4:44 AM

    • You’re welcome. As little as I know about birds, this is one kind I’ve come to recognize. They can put on quite a show at this time of year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2023 at 7:41 AM

  2. You’re so lucky to see these regularly. Robins and waxwings are among my favorite birds, but sightings of them here are occasional, at best. I’m seeing and hearing a few robins now, so perhaps I should start watching for these beauties. If yours hang around for a while, watch for one with an orange tip to its tail. Diet determines the color; when the flocks showed up at my place, the tail tips were both yellow and orange.

    That quotation always brings a smile. Today, it also reminded me of a very short poem by Stephen Crane that’s become more amusing to me over the years:

    A man said to the universe:
    “Sir, I exist!”
    “However,” replied the universe,
    “The fact has not created in me
    A sense of obligation.”


    January 26, 2023 at 7:00 AM

    • Your mention of robins coincides with my sighting of a single one on these same yaupon trees along with the cedar waxwings. Twice I saw a male cardinal eating from the trees as well. I’m not sure I’ve noticed orange tail tips on any cedar waxwings; I believe I’ve only seen yellow. And not till now have I seen those lines by Stephen Crane, which go well with the one from Galileo. I confess to not having read much by Stephen Crane. I may have to make up for that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2023 at 8:05 AM

  3. Lovely photo of a feasting bird. At 400 mm it is no easy task to get it sharp.

    Alessandra Chaves

    January 26, 2023 at 7:28 AM

    • No, it isn’t. I used Topaz Photo AI to enhance the sharpness of the bird. The program is good at picking out the subject and applying changes only to it and not to the other things in the picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2023 at 8:10 AM

  4. I have had visits since Christmas. A very large flock visited over the weekend. I could not get a good picture.

    automatic gardener

    January 26, 2023 at 7:39 AM

    • I’m glad to hear you, too, had visits. Getting pictures can be hard, given how quickly these birds often move.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2023 at 8:11 AM

  5. I really want to begin birdwatching once I get a camera again!

    Rei Clearly

    January 26, 2023 at 7:44 AM

  6. It looks beautiful amongst your berry tree and with one in its mouth! Did they wipe out the whole tree’s berries in a day?


    January 26, 2023 at 7:56 AM

    • I was surprised that the group of waxwings left after a while. On other occasions I’ve seen them devour a tree’s fruit supply.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2023 at 8:13 AM

  7. I’ve only seen cedar waxwings a few times in my life and that’s a shame, they’re handsome and I get a kick out of their evident joy when they find good berries for a feast.

    Robert Parker

    January 26, 2023 at 8:09 AM

  8. Your work in producing a nice final image paid off. Nicely done!

    We hear the high-pitched whistles of Cedar Waxwings on almost every outing at this time of year. Locating where they are feeding is another story. We’ll keep looking.

    Wally Jones

    January 26, 2023 at 9:04 AM

    • Thanks. I managed to make the image a lot better than it started out.

      I don’t believe I’ve heard cedar waxwings whistling. Good luck finding some in a feeding frenzy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2023 at 9:44 PM

  9. Cedar waxwings are pretty common in our area. But I will have to wait till spring before seeing them here.

    Peter Klopp

    January 26, 2023 at 9:05 AM

    • From what you say, I infer that they’ll be moving north with the warming weather. I hope you get to see them feasting on berries in your area.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2023 at 9:47 PM

  10. Great photograph of a beautiful bird. Must feel good to have them visiting your garden.

    Ann Mackay

    January 26, 2023 at 9:09 AM

    • These birds are quite attractive and fun to watch. One clarification: although we have some native trees and shrubs and wildflowers in parts of our yard, we don’t have an actual garden the way so many of you do.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2023 at 9:49 PM

  11. Beautiful shot, Steve!

    Eliza Waters

    January 26, 2023 at 1:23 PM

    • I’d been eyeing the fruit as it turned from green to red over several months. Based on what I observed in a couple of other recent years, I was hoping the waxwings would put on an eating show—and some did.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 26, 2023 at 9:51 PM

  12. A beautiful waxywing to complement beautiful waxy berries.


    January 26, 2023 at 8:11 PM

  13. Gorgeous photo!!


    January 26, 2023 at 8:14 PM

  14. Cedar waxwings are such beautiful birds. I haven’t seen any here. That is a lovely photo, Steve.

    Lavinia Ross

    January 27, 2023 at 7:26 AM

  15. Welcome back, waxwings. If you plant shrubs with edible berries, they will come!


    January 27, 2023 at 3:41 PM

    • I didn’t plant the yaupons but the cedar waxwings came anyway. So did a robin and a male cardinal. Whether any or all of those will yet come back to finish off the ample fruit supply still on the trees remains to be seen (or possibly not seen).

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 27, 2023 at 3:57 PM

  16. Thank you for another great photo. I am really drawn to this one.

    Judy Baumann

    January 27, 2023 at 7:50 PM

    • You’re welcome. Cedar waxwings understandably attract nature photographers, but getting a picture of one at just the right moment is difficult, as I can attest from many attempts over the years that resulted in lots of failures and many fewer successes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 27, 2023 at 8:55 PM

  17. That’s a fine shot of a beautiful bird!

    Steve Gingold

    January 29, 2023 at 12:48 PM

  18. Wonderful photo Steve … a real beauty!


    February 1, 2023 at 11:50 AM

  19. I absolutely love cedar waxwings. Such beautiful and colorful birds. I like how soft they appear. And they so often seem silent or at least very quiet. I don’t recall seeing any yet this year, but I may have just overlooked them. Some years they’ve fed on the berries on the tree in my front yard. I could spend hours watching them.

    Todd Henson

    February 5, 2023 at 12:25 PM

    • I understand your fascination with them. Even when the two yaupon trees outside my window had ice on them from the storm, cedar waxwings showed up to have another go at the trees’ little fruits. The waxwings have paid three visits that I’m aware of, so the trees are now left with less than half the fruit they started with.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 5, 2023 at 1:43 PM

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