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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Geese on the Wilder Side of Oakland County

Two geese and their goslings swim through duck-weed covered water. A painted turtle sunbathes on a log close by.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Not all Oakland County geese spend their days grazing out in the open on lawns, golf courses, the greens of schools and college campuses, and along the shorelines of our multi-sport lakes. Nor do all geese exhibit aggressive behavior when a human meanders too close to a nesting site that’s hidden in office-plaza shrubbery or along a popular and well-traversed trail. Some are more reclusive and head to secluded swamps and woodland ponds when it’s nesting time. This is their story and brings to mind the first sentence of Aldo Leopold’s classic book of nature essays, A Sand County Almanac (Leopold, 1949): “There are some who can live with wild things, and some who cannot.” I look to the woodland geese as wild things.

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