Field Notes: Mixed-Species Foraging Flock Robins and Waxwings
I need to start by making it clear that I am not a scientist nor do I have a degree in any field of wildlife study. What I am is an observer detailing what I see when I am hiking. It is a blessing to have the Internet as a resource so I might learn more about Nature.
I have been reading about mixed-species foraging flocks, it appears they generally join together when one flock joins another at a feeding location. However in this case the Robins and Cesar Waxwing have been flock together for at least eleven days possibly longer. The Robins were only the dominant flock on the Tufa Terrace January 22 2010 when they flew in and began frantically feeding on berries. In fact the Cedar Waxwings pushed the Robins out of the Tree when their flock arrived. Later on February 07 2010 I saw Robins and Cedar Waxwings on the Honeysuckle Trail. I noted at the time it was the first time I had seen Robins on that trail. Move ahead to February 18 2010 I note in my blog that I am surprised to see a flock of Robins up at the Hot Springs Mountain Pagoda. Not long after I note a large group of Cedar Waxwings appear. The Waxwings are smaller in size but appear to be the dominant group in this mixed flock.
Below are my field notes, photos from Winter 2010 regarding my sightings of American Robins (Thrush) and Cedar Waxwings (Flycatcher) flocking together.
January 22 2010: “The decision to hike back to the top and go down the Peak trail proved fortuitous. As I walked the last few feet of the Peak trail a large flock of birds landed in a nearby Juniper tree and began feasting on the berries. The frenzy was an amazing site and I later discovered they were Cedar Waxwings. A Robin moved to a higher tree to watch the the show unfold below.
February 07 2010: “The biggest surprise was to be revealed to me on one of my favorite trails. As I crested the first incline of the Honeysuckle Trail I was greeted by a flock of Robins, it was the first time I had seen them on this part of the trail. The bigger surprise was their traveling companion, a large Cedar Waxwing. I kept thinking when I got home my photos would really show it was only a pale Robin, a fine feathered illusion.”
February 18 2010: “When I reached the top the picnic area was silent and there appeared to be very view birds. However, as I moved toward the Pagoda I saw a large flock of Robins, they ignored me as I walk through them to the steps.
I had finished my view shot and from the corner of my eye saw a bright fluttering in the large tree next to me. I could see these were not Robins and when I put my camera up the zoom revealed a flock of Cedar Waxwings. Looking below I could see the two flocks were mixed together. This was the second time I had witnessed Robins and Cedar Waxwings flocking together. It was a spectacle of acrobatics and feeding, I hardly knew where to look next. I photographed a rare Cedar Waxwing that had Red tail tips instead of yellow.”