These tiny birds look like cute Christmas tree decorations. Inge photographed this male and female who probably arrived recently in Virginia as winter residents or transients. Ruby-crowned Kinglets breed in the north and west where they announce their territory with a remarkably loud song for a petite bird. The male on the left has a red stripe on his crown which he hasn’t elevated.
As I resume posts after an absence, I chose Inge’s picture of a Cedar Waxwing. Not an uncommon bird in Virginia and seen here any month of the year, but a sighting always draws a long look. They look cocksure in their dandy uniform.
More often seen in a small flock than alone, they can strip berries from ornamental bushes or native trees like dogwoods in a few minutes. Why Cedar? Probably because they like the fruit of cedars. But in the warm months they also catch insects for a richer source of protein for breeding.
If you think birds are universally beautiful, consider this face. I’d say it’s full of character!
Two centuries ago, a taxonomist named it Podargus strigoides, which in my rendering from Latin means ‘the owl who stands watchful.’ But it turns out to be more closely related to nightjars than owls. Not uncommon, and sometimes found in parks and gardens, it often goes unnoticed in daytime, resting perfectly still and camouflaged on a branch. But as darkness falls it becomes active, catching flying insects on the wing in a mouth as broad as a frog’s.
[Friday posts suspended while the author is abroad]