Here’s a delicious fact about Cedar Waxwings: They can strip a tree of its berries in such a rush the juice turns to wine and they get too buzzed to fly.
Robert Rice, a veteran bird scientist who spent his career with the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center, explained what happens: “They can eat so much fruit, it ferments in their gut and they go wobbly for a while,” Rice said.
Few other birds feast in such a mass frenzy, and the phenomenon is on display this time of year as bands of waxwings dine their way north from the lower U.S. and Central America and as far up as Canada.
It’s a magnificent sight, one I assumed I’d miss this year with our limited mobility. But the other day, wandering through the trees not 50 feet from our home, I noticed what looked like a new arrival. It was the first of a flock of Cedar Waxwings that gradually became an avalanche, all collecting insects as if their lives depended on it.
They began high in the trees, then gradually worked their way down to the lower branches. Today insects were on the menu, and one bird after another took a turn working the branches, all the while ignoring our presence as only the migration enables. It’s a gift to birders, and photographers, enabling closeup views you rarely are granted.