Fall may be my favorite time of year, and October my favorite month. I love the transformation of colors that happens so quickly it’s hard to catch, the crunching of leaves while walking to class or through the Arb, the growing excitement for Halloween, and the smell in the air that can’t be explained in any other words other than crisp.
Getting out into the arboretum is essential this time of year to grasp the full beauty of the season but if you’re interested in seeing wildlife, and especially birds, you may not even have to go as far as the complex.
Recently, when sitting on the concrete benches between Davis and Musser I realized that I was surrounded by a large flock of birds feeding on the berries of the small trees between the two residence halls.
These birds, called Cedar Waxwings, are unusual to see except in the fall; once you learn to recognize them you will see that they are everywhere!
Cedar Waxwings are a beautiful bird with cinnamon colored plumage, grey wings, a bright yellow band on the end of their grey tail, a black eye mask and distinctively crested head.
Currently, many of the members of each flock will be lacking the usual plumage color and will instead appear a more drab grey, brown. This is because they are juveniles who were born this summer and who won’t become full-fledged adults until January.
Cedar Waxwings live in flocks and move together from tree to tree looking for berries and fruit, which make up the majority of the their diet.
My personal favorite fact about waxwings is that they are known for being gluttons and will overeat constantly; occasionally they will consume fruit that is overripe and has fermented on the tree resulting in a phenomenon that is referred to by official sources as “alcohol intoxication susceptibility” but in simpler terms, as drunk birds stumbling around- something that is nothing new for the residents of Musser to witness!