I moved to the high desert a couple of years ago and thought I left some of my favorite friends behind. One of my favorite birds where I lived before was the cedar waxwing. I felt lucky when I saw one.
If I could use one word to describe cedar waxwings it would be “smooth”. Whenever I see one I have an urge to reach out and touch it. Its tawny feathers ombre into a creamy yellow on its underparts and gray near its tail. The feathers connect together so tightly that they give it a silky smooth appearance.
Cedar waxwings get their name by a unique feature on the tips of their wings and tail. They look as if they got too close to a craft project that involved melting crayons. The tail is tipped in Sunshine Yellow. Small waxy droplets of Sizzling Red tip the wings.
They seem to wear a disguise on their faces. Black masks bordered with white frame their eyes. They raise a small crest of feathers on the tops of their heads as part of their communication. It alters their appearance so that they look like someone else.
Their voices are a wispy series of notes. I always recognize it even if I don’t see the bird. It is very high pitched making them sound smaller than they actually are. One time I saw a grosbeak feeding one and thought it might be because it mistook the call for one of its young.
At some times of the year, waxwings flock together. I see specks flying high across the sky announcing their identity with their distinctive calls. I used to be happy to see one or two waxwing birds at a time but now I see flocks in my yard.
I left behind people I had grown close to to move here. I thought I was leaving everyone but now I flock with different crowds. Sometimes they remind me so much of someone I knew before. Are they wearing disguises or did a special piece of my past follow me to my present?