Our southwest Portland neighborhood has been invaded by fruit-eating birds. Flocks of American Robins, Lesser Goldfinches, House Finches, and Evening Grosbeaks are swarming from tree to tree this week.
The most abundant bird, however, has been the Cedar Waxwing, which we profiled in the Colorful Birds section of our book.
Our backyard pyrocantha trees, which usually annoy us with their sharp spines and rapid sucker growth, produced a bumper crop of little orange fruits this summer. Yesterday, the big waxwing flock descended on our backyard to relieve the trees of their burden.
Many were in juvenile plumage, like the one on the right, or molting adults, so they were not looking their sharpest. Still, they were a joy to watch.
Each bird would pick a berry, squeeze it a few times in its bill, poke it with its tongue, and then reject or swallow it. The flock must have been hungry. The berry clusters in the photos above are now gone.