Waxing lyrical*

The Bohemian waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus), like the Hawk owl, is an irruptive species of bird. Its irruptions are however much more frequent, and groups of Waxwings are found foraging on Danish fruit and berries almost every winter. Denmark is quite far from their sub-Arctic breeding grounds, but fortunately full of all the things Waxwings like to eat, so the journey doesn’t seem to deter them.

Because they often feed on fermented berries, they have had to develop strategies to cope with alcohol; their livers are much larger than livers from non alcoholic birds of similar size. This enables them to keep eating berries long after other birds would have dropped off their branches, but they are still occasionally intoxicated according to some sources. I have no idea how one determines this, and I don’t know if the flock I met were reaching critical levels of drunkenness or not – I just know that they’re very pretty!

Flocks of visiting Waxwings are often discovered on their call; it has been likened to the ringing of small silver bells. Yesterday I was working at my desk when I heard them outside my window, and although there was little light for the camera to operate with I took the chance and went out to photograph them. A few images turned out rather nicely; here are the best ones.

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*) Waxing lyrical is slang for speaking with great excitement of something. Like when I speak of birds for instance…