Birds Got Talent

How many berries can a cedar waxwing carry to feed her hungry chicks?

Hunched over a camera for the better part of a month, a few summers ago, filming this family of cedar waxwings transform from hatchlings to fledglings, I amassed hours of video for a commissioned project with room for — get this — just 10 seconds of footage. Leaving aside the question of whether such human behavior might suggest mental illness, you now know why nobody but me has seen 90% of all the imagery I’ve captured on Nature’s Coast. Until now.

(FYI, that volume over the past 15-plus years amounts to over 500 hours of raw footage, which at an average 150 shots per hour, translates into over 75,000 individual shots. Now you also know why I was compelled to create this website, or else finally drown under the metaphysical weight of so much imagery unshared with anyone else: “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it …”)

Among the waxwing clips that didn’t make the final cut was this one that, as so often happens, I was physically too far away to fully “see” in the field as it happened, and thus would never have seen at all if not for my camera’s zoom lens, coupled with my computer’s ability to play and replay the video frame by frame. As I watched in wonder as the mother waxwing coughed up berry after berry after berry, I actually began to wonder if she might be bottomless. To save you from having to replay the video umpteen-dozen times as I did, I added numbers to help everyone keep count.

For me this project afforded a fascinating opportunity to be “part of the family” of cedar waxwings for a month, and I must confess to feeling that sad “empty nest” feeling when the chicks finally flew. But soon thereafter came a tip about a nest of bluebirds, and off again I went.

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