Not The Bluebirds I Was Looking For But I’m Just As Pleased
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For the past couple of weeks I’ve been on a frustrating hunt of a small flock of Western Bluebirds that are spending their winter at Sabino Canyon. These beautiful little birds have been hanging out in the Saguaro and mesquite near the canyon’s visitor center. I’ve had several near-misses attempting to photograph them. Either the light’s wrong or the birds are buried in vegetation and not clearly visible, it’s always something.
Yesterday afternoon I was about 100 yards from the visitor center when I saw a small flock of birds sitting in a large mesquite tree. I thought: “gotcha!” and began stalking them. As I drew near I realized that these birds weren’t bluebirds but something else.
I had stumbled across a flock of about 25 Cedar Waxwings.
Cedar Waxwings are extraordinarily beautiful birds. Their plumage is a very pleasing combination of beige, reddish tan, and lemon yellow, and they have distinctive black facial masks. These birds have small crests on their heads. Waxwings are in a genus of their own, but they are related to another species that shows up in the desert this time of year, the Phainopepla. I’ll show some Phainopepla images at some point very soon.
Cedar Waxwings are not thought of as a desert species but they obviously enjoy spending time in Sabino Canyon. They clearly enjoy our extremely mild winter weather but they enjoy something else, and that is berries. Evidently, there are enough of them in Sabino Canyon to make the stopover worth the birds’ while.
By the way, those bluebirds are still hanging out in the canyon. I saw them again today and they eluded me once more. I’m going to keep trying to photograph them.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400 f4-5.6 L zoom lens @ 400 mm, ISO 400, aperture preferred setting, f7.1 @ 1/1600.