Migration is still mostly a mystery. We know that things move around the planet; sharks, whales, striped bass, lots of birds, caribou, butterflies and dragonflies, and wildebeest. We know why they do it; to find a seasonal food source, to reach a likely breeding area, or to avoid bad stuff like seasonal fires or cold (cold kills off food sources as well as presenting metabolic challenges). We expect creatures to appear or disappear within a season or at a certain time of year. Migratory birds arrive and depart, nests are made and used, flowers bloom and fruits appear – all somewhat predictably.
On the other side of the coin is the total lack of understanding about some important features; what starts the movement, do creatures travel together, is it weather or food dependent, is there a simple answer or is it a suite of circumstances that work together to create a general result, how do they navigate and what do they remember.
In the image above there are five Cedar Waxwings (CEWA) and one Bohemian Waxwing (BOWA). The cedars are smaller and much more common in the Northeast US. As a matter of fact the Bohemian Waxwing is an irregular winter bird in New England. It shows up each winter in small numbers for certain and very rarely in larger numbers. Both waxwings eat fruit and seeds in the winter and thus are looking for hollies, privet, cedars, and bittersweet. Sadly two of these are invasive plants in our region.
The Bohemian Waxwing, and even the more common Cedar Waxwing, is a nice winter bird to happen on; fun to see, a bit of a surprise, and providing some brightness in a rather drab environment. There are many birds that are much easier to see in our winter. 2019-2020 has been a very mild winter but still there are few insects, not much fruit, and almost no seeds from our annual plants. So here are a few more common birds …. that can always find something to eat and a place to hang out.