Celebrating Cedar Waxwings

A Cedar Waxing perched on a branch

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“With thin, lisping cries, flocks of Cedar Waxwings descend on berry-laden trees and hedges, to flutter among the branches as they feast.” Lives of North American Birds (Kaufman, 1996)

Nature’s way is rich with memorable moments of wildness. Some of these moments brighten the spirit and remind us that nature has predictable patterns. Sometimes, we have to search for those moments, but other times we just stumble upon them and are left in awe and feel like celebrating. The latter happened to me in the first week of June, along a trail I know well.

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Our Elusive Black-billed Cuckoo

A Black-billed Cuckoo perched on a tree branch with its head cocked to the left

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

You must have the bird in your heart before you can find it in the bush.” – John Burroughs Locusts and Wild Honey, (Burroughs, 1895)

I never knew Black-billed Cuckoos existed until a few hours after an early evening encounter near the end of May, and that’s where this bird tale begins. First, however, I must establish I do not qualify as a “birder” by any means. I have no interest in creating a life list of bird species I have seen, but I take great pleasure in watching Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the feeder and listening to the cheerful song of House Wrens nesting in my arbor.

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Wild Moments of May

A 2x2 collage of photos that includes a yellow lady slipper orchid, an Eastern Bluebird, a shagbark hickory terminal bud, and a white trillium

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of each.” – Henry David Thoreau The Journal, 1837-1861 (Thoreau, 2009)

Nature’s way springs to life in May with greening of the woodlands, the blooming of wildflowers, bird song at sunrise, and delightfully longer hours of daylight. It’s the month that not just every naturally curious child, but every adult, should embrace the joys of nature’s way. May is also a month of surprising finds and totally unexpected encounters in wetlands, woodlands, and along our trails.

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One Week into the Wonders of Spring!

An Eastern Bluebird looks down from his perch on a branch, the background in the image is blurred.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“At the end of winter, there is a season in which we are daily expecting spring, and finally a day when it arrives.” – Henry David Thoreau The Journal, 1837-1861 (Thoreau, 2009)

The Spring Equinox is an exciting symbol of rebirth, growth, and awakening. Creatures that hibernated are stirring, birds are returning from distant lands, and the earliest of spring’s woodland wildflowers are pushing up through thawing soils. For me, that moment of recognition of the passing of winter was not the appearance of lawn-hopping robins or the emergence of crocuses. It occurred on the first day of spring at Bear Creek Nature Park in Oakland Township. That’s where a friend and I watched an Eastern Bluebird perched on a tree limb, waiting for an insect to appear in the meadow below. Perhaps its sudden downwards plunge and the capture of a bug that followed was confirmation to the bluebird that, as Thoreau once wrote, “ . . . and finally a day when it arrives.”

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Frigid February Feeder Frenzy

A male Cardinal perched on a tree with frost-covered red berries and branches

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Woodlands fell silent as winter’s grasp tightened and temperatures plunged to single digits. However, blue sky mornings added beauty as birds hunted for frozen berries and feasted at feeders while our coldest weekend of the year approached. Birds actually manage quite well on their own without human handouts, but bird feeders offer never-ending sources of entertainment, enjoyment, and education. They become center stage for kaleidoscopes of brilliant colors, insight into the ways of nature, and sometimes fast-moving drama.

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