Rare Mystery Bird Identified

categories: Cocktail Hour / Getting Outside


Bohemian Waxwings: Easy I.D., But a Rarer Bird Awaits


This morning on my daily rounds a flock of about two dozen Bohemian Waxwings followed me for more than a mile, flying in various factions from tree to tree, for a while stopping to sip at a break in the ice, Temple Stream.  The sky was very, very blue.  The birds are almost blue, but gray, with beautiful yellow tail tips and yellow in their wings (the sealing wax of their name, I guess).  Baila the dog took a drink in the freshly exposed current, and by all signs you’d guess the date was March 20, not February 20.  We walked on the ice, like breaking glass, all these layers and shelves and store windows, noisy.  In the alders ahead I spotted a bird.  I looked the other way so as to misdirect Baila, who obliged, tearing around the corner smashing chalices.  And put the binooculars to my eyes.  Small movements.  A lot of black .  Some yellow.  Large, a little bigger than a Robin.  I flipped through the indexes in my head–nothing.  If I’d been in Montana, in summer, maybe a yellow-headed blackbird, but no, no.  Casually I crept closer.  And closer yet.  The bird paid no mind, but kept up its subtle swinging movements.  Closer.  Still impossible to identify.  Closer, Baila returning with a great crashing.  Brave bird didn’t move.  Closer.  And if you click READ THE REST, you’ll see what it was.  Amazing, rare, and clearly a wayward denizen of the upstream backyards.






Waxwing Watering Hole

  1. monica wood writes:

    You got me. Absolutely got me. FIrst picture, I thought.: Yellow-headed blackbird!!! Second pic, I thought,Uh…reverse yellow-headed blackbird? Third picture: Bill, you DOG.

    • Bill writes:

      That little motorcycle man got me, too. It was just moving enough. I watched it for like ten minutes, sneaking closer. And honestly? It kind of scared me when it suddenly assumed human shape. Baila’s the dog!

  2. George de Gramont writes:

    Special Essay. Do I detect “Bonding” w/Missy.