Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Waxwing lyrical part 24 - cost a Bombycilla

The expense of feeding the Waxwings has really hit home over the past few days with over 100 present for several days now and a peak of 130+ on April 1st. They have been getting through 10 to 12 kg of apples each day and the freebies have been in short supply. I have no one but myself to blame as I have brought this on myself and I could have stopped at anytime. These birds are used to moving on when they have exhausted a food supply so stopping feeding them shouldn't have presented a problem, or would it in our messed up world. The fact is I couldn't stop as this is very likely to be a once in a lifetime opportunity and I have to say what a privilege it has been.

A few of the birds early morning viewed from the comfort of an arm chair..

A few of the birds in the afternoon glow.

A few more birds in the strong afternoon sunshine.
A constant food supply means that any build up or fall off in their numbers is influenced by other factors such as availability of other food sources or the urge to migrate. I have been keeping daily records of their numbers and behaviours and have developed a real respect for the life skills of these birds. Gorgeous they may be but they are real survivors: feisty, adaptable, selfish yet gregarious and did I mention gorgeous. Others have described them as the perfect bird and if Carlsberg made birds they wouldn't be as good as Waxwings so that is one in the eye for Carlsberg and the ad-men.

They really contort themselves at times when feeding.
The bird on the left is the Estonian ringed bird which has been visiting the garden for more than 5 weeks now.
I think numbers may have peaked now and the birds will start to head east back towards their breeding grounds. Some of the birds caught in the past few days have had significant fat deposits. This is best exemplified by a retrap caught today that weighed 70.5 g and only weighed 60g on 14th March, that is around a 17% increase in body weight. Not only have they been building up weight in the form of fat but they have clearly been building up muscle too. Some birds have shown weight gains with no significant fat deposits but muscle definition has clearly improved.
Fab four, a few of the many feeding this evening.

I may not be Waxwing lyrical for much longer but I hope you have enjoyed it while I have.

There will be no looking back when this bird finally heads off east.


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