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Cherished Bird Encounter  By Dena Miller

The most cherished bird close-encounter that I’ve experienced involved my favorite bird, the cedar waxwing. At the time my family and I lived in a half basement apartment, I was in the bedroom when the sight of a single waxwing sitting on the window well captured my attention. Placed around the bird was a semicircle of small crab apples—a few had been pecked at. The little bird with treasure all around it was a bit wobbly, eyes closed. Once in a while it would open them partway, and then drift back into its drunken stupor. The crab apples had obviously fermented. Apparently, creatures of all kinds enjoy a nip when the opportunity presents itself.

Watching the little inebriated creature for a few minutes, I couldn’t help but see the similarities between this wee drunken bird and other larger creatures sitting on a bar stool, closing time neigh, and just not wanting to move.

Then I realized the little bird was in danger as a number of cats lived in the area. I climbed the steps to the outside world, went around the building and was thrilled to see my little soused friend, still wobbling a bit with eyes closed, partially eaten crab apples at her feet.

I carefully picked her up. More beautiful in my hands than book illustrations or views from a binocular can offer. The subtle coloration and the dramatic black mask offered a vivid contrast. I felt the softness of her feathers, her weightlessness. This must have been a younger bird, as she did not yet have the red bars at the middle of the flight feathers. Still not of this world, I was able to turn her over and examine her creamy-yellow underside. The fantastic, waxy looking yellow feathers truly did seem to be made from wax. I didn’t want to touch them and risk waking her, but I was so curious—what did they feel like? I wanted this experience for as long as her altered state would offer me. She shortly awoke, paying no attention to me, righted herself, and then in one long and arced swoop, flew into the nearest low hanging branch.  I left her to herself and hoped that drunken wee birds do not suffer from hangovers.

Dena Miller is the spouse of one the Friends’ Board Members.   I have been waiting to post this and today I came across a flock of Waxwings feeding right beside the road, so I rolled my window down and started taking pictures.  If you look at these photos you will see quite a variation in the amount of red.  Females have more red than males.  Young birds have none.  Rick Hollis

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