Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bohemian Waxwings

On Sunday I met up with my friends Mary and Scott at Magnuson Park to see if we could find the Bohemian Waxwings that have been hanging out there for the past couple of weeks.

These birds are an uncommon fall/winter visitor to our area, often flying in mixed flocks with their cousins, the Cedar Waxwings.

They are both lovely birds, with very small, smooth-looking feathers and a distinctive head crest.  They love berries, and there are plenty of winter berries in Magnuson Park, especially on the hawthorns.

You can tell Bohemians from Cedars by the bright red spots on the Bohemian wing.  They're also grayer overall and a bit bigger in size.

They were easy to find -- when I arrived at the parking lot, I spotted two birders heading out, and asked if they'd seen them.  They had, and pointed us in the right direction.

They were in the hawthorns that line the trail between the Kite Hill parking lot and the off-leash dog park.  We joined a small group of other birders who were all admiring the waxwings.

I like this berry-eating sequence:

After getting our fill of the waxwings, we explored a good portion of the rest of the park, and were treated to good views of scaup, wigeons, and a goldeneye out on the lake.  In the trees we had a Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a small bird that shall forever remain a mystery.  I have determined that I need a Master Birder refresher course, for I am decidedly rusty in my ID skills.

On the ground, we spotted the usual Song Sparrows and several Golden-crowned Sparrows, along with this lovely surprise:

California Quail!  I've seen them at the park before on occasion, but they rarely stroll out from cover, so we were delighted to get such a fine view of these birds.

Rain is in the forecast for the rest of this week, and I was happy to be able to get outside for the past three days in a row in beautiful sunshine.


  1. The waxwings are gorgeous. Are California quail the same ones that hang around the Tri-Cities? I see quail here often. They don't seem to care too much about cover. Interesting.

    1. Yes, those are California Quail you see down there. They definitely don't seem as shy there --not when I've seen them hanging out in people's yards. But if you get too close, they will easily startle and flutter off in a hurry.