A fresh and breezy, almost chilly, but blue-skied and golden morning called us out of doors today. We hadn't been over to the St. Olaf College nature area for several months, so off we went around midmorning. The wind seemed to be keeping the birds out of sight for most of our walk, and although I was wearing jeans and a long-sleeved top I almost regretted leaving my jacket in the car . A few mallards on the pond, a hawk (probably a northern harrier) flying low over the prairie areas, and a crow or two were all we had seen until we were about three quarters of the way around and reached the south side of the pond-loop trail. Passing some wild plums (above), we were suddenly aware of birds ahead and soon saw that they were fruit-loving cedar waxwings.
The photo above shows two cedar waxwings in a tree -- one in sun with its back to the camera and one above it, shaded and in profile. (Click on the photo for a larger view.) You can see a hint of the red wingtips, like drops of red wax, on the wing feathers on the more-visible bird. These, of course, are what give the bird its common name.
We set up the spotting scope and although the birds kept moving one did land on an exposed bare branch not far away for a minute or so, long enough for me to get the shots above and below. I was very pleased with these; while certainly not perfect, they are some of my best digiscoping results ever. You can clearly see the bright yellow tips to the tail feathers, the lovely yellow-to-rosy buff blush of the breast transitioning to the head, and the flat crest and black bandit mask that are among the instantly distinguishing features of this gregarious bird.
It was a nice way to finish up the walk. Earlier we had appreciated the tall prairie grasses and wildflowers waving in the wind, and I'll have a post about them in a while.