Winters in Alaska are cold and dark, and many folks long for the return of the leaves and songbirds in May, but by looking in the right habitats, some of the most beautiful, colorful birds of the region can be found in December and January. I have spent some glorious time watching Pine Grosbeaks feed on a mountain ash tree in my yard, but a few weeks ago I noticed they went elsewhere after having stripped nearly every berry. We recently moved to this location, so I didnt know what to expect birdwise, but I had been hoping that this tree would attract bohemian waxwings. I was dissapointed when the mountain ash tree, which is famous for feeding these beautiful, fruit and berry loving birds during the winter, had been stripped clean by only grosbeaks. Last week, to my delight and surprise, a single bohemian waxwing arrived on scene and began to feed on the blue berries of a Chinese privet tree. The next day a few more waxwings showed up, then a few more. One morning I woke up and saw fourteen waxwings feeding in the privet tree! They stayed and fed from this tree for over a week, and were oblivious to my presence, so I was able to observe and photograph these hardy north country birds, which are so vibrant, one might expect to find them in the tropics.
Waxwings are extremely skilled at gleaning berries from trees. They often hang upside down to gain access to hard to reach treats, and use a single, extended wing to maintain lift and balance. Once a berry is obtained, a bird sometimes flips it in the air and catches it in its mouth!
When the flock of 14 waxwings had cleared all but a few berries from the privet tree, I knew that my opportunity to spend time with these magical birds was almost finished. Suddenly, one of the birds spied a rosebush and landed to investigate, and within a few minutes, the rest of flock had followed.
All images copyright Brad Josephs
That Bald Eagle almost makes those crows look like sparrows, huh?!! LOL!! I really loved watching them around La Crosse, Wi. when I use to drive a semi from there!! Such a Beautiful Bird!! I thought that Bald Eagles was a territorial bird, but when I counted 13 of them in one tree, I knew different!! Have A Great Day and I’ll Talk To You Later!!
Thank you again, I have not only had the joy of having these great colorful birds at my feeders, but it has been an added bonus to enjoy your photographs of them. Winter in Alaska is not boring. Not only are these beautiful birds, but with all the sounds that they add…it does sound like spring!
Those photos are amazing. Were you using the 100 x 400 lens? Beautiful. Bobbie
hey bobbie! i used a fixed 300, f 4.0, on a
beautiful photos – haven’t had waxwings here for quite a few years – too warm up north so no incentive to come down. Your fixed 300 delivers awesome photos, ‘of course the talent behind the lens has something to do with it.
hi, i’m from austin, tx. thanks for your magnificent vibrant photos. i’ve never seen a bohemian waxwing i don’t think, just cedar waxwings, and never seen a pine grosbeak or hawk owl. ger
True wintertime beauty captured by you Brad.
What beautiful pictures, Brad! Do not see these birds where we live; however, I do enjoy watching the cardinal pairs, nuthatches, finches, and woodpeckers at our feeders. We had a pair of pileated woodpeckers at our suet feeder several years ago. Awesome! Thanks for sending your photos! Please keep them coming!
Nice shots Brad…walked out this morning and had a Saw-whet 16′ away…went down my stairs and had it 12′ overhead, while observing it another Saw-whet knocked it off its perch…the first one landed about 30′ away and the second again darted at it!!! Exciting way to start the day! Dale
Beautiful Pictures. I stumbled onto your site by accident but will surely visit again. I have been trying to figure out where my bohemian waxwings have gone?Im in northern Alberta and I have a very large crabapple tree(mini apples) that the waxwings usually strip clean by this time, but i havent seen one yet. Curious. first time in nearly 20 years that this has happened.