Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My tipsy bird

Last winter, I came home one day to what I thought was a dead bird on my deck. It was so sad.

I picked her up so that I could bury her.....and I felt her heart beating slowly. And then her eyes opened. She was okay!
What was so amazing was that she didn't seem nervous at all that I was holding her. I have held other birds (including a couple that have accidentally flown into my house) and their hearts would always beat rapidly. But this bird was content being held.

I placed her on my leg and took a few pictures- and she willingly obliged. Such a beauty!

Then I filled a dish with water and perched her on the edge. By this time, I had come to the conclusion that this wild bird was destined to be my pet. She would make a great companion, I decided. She'd travel with me to scout nurseries and gardens......Have I mentioned that I am completely delusional?

As I held my new found friend, I expanded her wings, checking to see if she was injured. That's when I noticed the red wax-like tips on her wing feathers. A Cedar Waxwing!

I found my bird field guide to make sure I had identified her correctly (I know, I am such a dork). That's when I realized what was really wrong with my bird....she was drunk.

I learned that Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) are fruit eaters. In the late winter, many of the berries they feast upon have fermented. As they gorge themselves on these fruits, they can become drunk and disoriented. Consequently, they accidentally fly into windows and buildings. Once they sleep off their buzz, they rejoin the flock (if they aren't devoured by a cat first).

Heartbroken that she wasn't going to be my pet, I made her a drunk tank and set her in it.
An hour or so later, she flew off and seemed fully recovered.

The berries on the Weeping Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria 'Pendula') tree by my office window are starting to ripen- Cedar Waxwings love this plant. Seeing the reddening fruit reminded me of my inebriated bird. You think she remembers her afternoon with me?


  1. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," she's saying.

    Don't forget to go back to Blotanical and look at your messages under "My Plot."

  2. The state highway dept. removed hedges of Eleagnus along the interstate here because of drunken Waxwings. The carnage was very dramatic to some drivers, but more so to the birds.

    Les @ atidewatergardener.blogspot.com

  3. They are such gorgeous birds. I'm so glad it was OK. I know it recalls its afternoon with you, just not as you do. Besides it had had too much to drink.

  4. Nell Jean- Thanks! I didn't know I got messages there- so much to learn about Blotanical!

    Les- That is so interesting...and sad!

    Mary Delle- I'm sure the bird thought she was hallucinating!

  5. I'm sure she swore off the sauce
    at least for the time being, look
    around for a tiny flask she may have
    hastily discarded upon her escape!

    Maybe she'll go on to do after school
    specials for the younger waxwings,
    warning of the dangers of the thirst.

    birdies recount:

    "And that thing held me for what seemed
    like days, pointing horrific machines
    with flashing lights in my face, when she brought what must have been a cookbook with my picture I knew I had to make my escape!"



Blog Widget by LinkWithin