The waxwings have a distinctive mask and feathers that look like they have been dipped in paint.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Low and behold on Palm Sunday, there was a feeding flock of showy cedar waxwings feasting on weather-worn crabapples in the First Congregational churchyard here in North Adams.
What a delightful sight to behold: a finest, kind choice by the forerunners who landscaped the churchyard with several crabapple trees that bloom a profuse pink and white cavalcade of blossoms in early spring.
In addition to the beautiful bloom, the crabapple trees produce succulent fruit that serves the avian fauna, yielding nutritious energy for sustaining hungry birds throughout the long snowy winter.
Luckily an abundance of crabapple trees was planted around the city in order to beautify urban settings. The flock will utilize crabapples growing around the Public Library, on main road margins, on the way to Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, and in neighborhoods where berry bushes abound.
In summer, certain insects suffice in habitats like old shrubby fields and sylvan edges, even open sand dunes (Cape Cod) where willows, maples, and oaks supply larvae and tender buds. And for these very showy passerines to flock and feed almost undisturbed by casual human presence is a true and valuable sign that verges on the Emersonian utopia that so many people acclaim. Many birders will jump at their chance to see such a feeding flock, not so much a feeding frenzy, but an orderly almost procession allowing the lesser waxwings to feed together at leisure.
One may label this phenomena with a humorous comment, "Oh, the legions of waxwings invoke the presence of the Lone Ranger, or Zorro, in sizable numbers so to engender a trustworthy mantra of justice and peace."
Indeed they bring to the cloistered garden a golden glow in delicate shades of yellow, gray, and brown, and with their wing and tail tip feathers dipped in bold yellow and red, as if painted by mother nature in her designing prime! Like an old phrase "Faith grows like the vine," and here the church provides food for the parish and the denizens winging to the essential crabapple.
Charlemagne was known to remark "May my weapons be the trees and the birds of the air" ... toward peace and harmony everlasting.
Tor Hansen, a naturalist writer, photographer, and musician, is a recent addition to the North County community.
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