Waxwing drama

Have a short story about your garden, gardening, gardeners, plants? Send it to Backyard Blogger

by Richard Burke

Gardens are about more than plants. Many gardeners go out of their way to locate plants and other features in their yards to attract birds and butterflies.

The past couple of days, we’ve had a flurry (not snow) of activity around our backyard pond, most notably a flock of cedar waxwings. The pond is a central feature of our garden, complete with koi that remain in it year around, with the help of a pond heater, and water plants such as pond lilies and marsh marigolds, which started blooming about the same time the cedar waxwings came this week.
We’ve had the pond for over a dozen years, but we’ve seen waxwings here only occasionally. This is the first year they’ve persisted.

Monday they started, rushing in for a drink – about 15 to 20 of them – and then quickly fleeing for a nearby mature tree. One had plucked a couple of juniper berries and swallowed them. They returned after I went for a morning meeting, but Marlene noticed a couple had stayed behind the second time. One was dead on the back patio beside the garage. probably after flying into the window. The other one just sat on our back step, not moving a lot. There was no apparent damage, but it may have been dazed after likely flying into a window at the back of the house.

When I returned home about three hours later, it still sat on the step. Hadn’t budged from its original perch, but was moving its head. We didn’t want to touch it in case it had an injured wing and were concerned we could further hurt it. So, we went golfing, hoping it would recover and fly away. By dinner time, it was still there, but had moved about a foot.

Now, we started to worry about its fate because we have cats coming through our yard every night. As well, magpies, crows and raptors like sparrow hawks frequent the neighbourhood. So, we consulted one neighbour, Mike, a fisheries biologist who, we reasoned, may have some broader wildlife knowledge. He suggested we put it in a box lined with a towel and put it in our greenhouse with some water nearby for the night. That would give us more options in the morning because places like a local wildlife office would be open with possible advice.

I had a shoebox with some old bills in it, but it seemed small. We called neighbour Joanne, who said she had a cat-carrying box. I went out the back door to go get it, looked at the waxwing and said, “Don’t worry, we’re trying to take care of you.” With that, it turned its head to the right, then back to the left, flapped its wings and away it went, up into an evergreen across the alley. This after eight hours sitting on the the step and pooping a few times.
We really felt we had connected with this wonderful wildlife specimen and were relieved when it flew off.

It was time for a celebratory glass of wine.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *