Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cedar Waxwings at Lippold Park

Located along the eastern shore of the Fox River in Batavia, Illinois, Lippold Park can be a very productive birding destination. A popular bike path runs along its outer perimeter. When we first visited the park back in 2008 the area was relatively undisturbed and included prairies, woodlands, a marsh and pond. The dirt paths were sometimes muddy and not maintained.

I was disappointed when land was cleared and the area near the entrance was torn up. Over the months an old maintenance shed was demolished and a pavilion was constructed. It included an elevated walkway which provided views of birds at tree-top level. Trails were improved and paved, exotic vegetation removed and butterfly-friendly shrubs were planted. Schoolchildren now attend organized walks and educational programs. The old pond and marshy area are traversed by a new boardwalk which also leads to the river's edge.  

This image was taken last October and shows the curving fenced walkway: 

Lippold Park shelter 20161013

During a break in the rainy weather this past week  Mary Lou and I visited Lippold park. Here are a couple of views of the pond and boardwalk:

Lippold Park boardwalk 01-20170521

Lippold Park boardwalk 02-20170521

In the fall, Purple Finches visited the cones of one of the tall Bald-cypress trees near the river's edge:

Purple Finch 03-20141022

Unlike other conifers, the Bald-cypress trees lose their needles over the winter. Last week they were sprouting fresh green foliage and emerging green cones. 

We were surprised to find a small flock of Cedar Waxwings (
Bombycilla cedrorummoving through the green branches of one of the cedars. At first I thought they were finding insects, but then noticed that they were examining the tiny cones...

Cedar Waxwing checking cyoress buds 2-20170521

...and plucking them!

Cedar Waxwing 05-20170521

Their actions were acrobatic as they gathered cone buds from the tips of the branches:

Cedar Waxwing 04-20170521

Cedar Waxwing eating cyoress buds 20170521

Cedar Waxwing eating cyoress buds 2-20170521

Cedar Waxwings are one of only three members of a family which includes the Bohemian and Japanese Waxwings. The latter is an Asian species and the Bohemian breeds in the far northwestern reaches of Canada into Alaska. 

Cedar Waxwings breed all across the northern tier of the US and in southern Canada. They winter south into all of the US, Mexico and Central America. Northernmost birds probably take the place of others which migrate to the south, but their presence can be quite irregular. In Florida we may see large flocks one winter and none at all for most of the next. 

Back in Florida, a flock of over 50 Cedar Waxwings seemed to have perfectly synchronized wing-beats (February, 2010):

Waxwing Ballet 20100212

Waxwings get their names from distinctive red wax-like tips on the bare ends their secondary flight feathers. Their diet mainly includes berries, fruit and tree buds, but also many insects. Often they may be seen high in the sky, hawking flying insects in flocks along with swallows. Their habit of eating juniper ("cedar") berries during the winter earned the Cedar Waxwings their first names. 

Cedar Waxwing 02-20170521

Cedar Waxwing 03-20170521

Here are two of my favorite images of the species, both taken at Lippold Park, in May, 2009...

Cedar Waxwing 20090502

...and in September, 2011: 

Cedar Waxwing 4-0110905

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Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,


Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display



  1. An absolutely gorgeous series of photos, Kenneth! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing photographic talent.

  2. Oh, Mr. Kenneth, your pictures are fantastic, perfect. The birds are beautiful. What a variety of wonderful birds you have in your paradise.

  3. Magnificent photography of the beautiful birds ~ what a lovely place ~ thanks,

    Happy Weekend ahead to you ~ ^_^

  4. I love that boardwalk! The waxwing shots are wonderful... I like the variety!

  5. Love your bird images, so sharp and clear. I love birds and it's such a pleasure to see those that we don't have here.

  6. Hi Kenneth, really interesting article, we get Waxwings in the UK but only as a winter visitor from the Scandinavian countries, and even then it depends on how harsh the winter is over there. If they are having a good winter and there is plenty of food, then we don't get many. If they are having a bad winter, then we may get what we call an influx year. The species we get is Bombycilla garrulus.
    Cheers Gordon.

  7. WOW! Those wagwings are so beautiful and those 2 shots that you like are fabulous Kenneth. Love all the reflections in the water. Have a wonderful weekend.

  8. What a beautiful bird!!! Never seen ans that makes this bird very special for me.

  9. Beautiful pictures, especially the photos of the birds.

  10. Wonderful images of the Cedar Waxwings!
    I saw some here in north Mississippi several years ago, and I keep looking for them to be here again, but no luck yet.
    Have a wonderful week-end!

  11. Hello wonderful captures of the Cedar Waxwings. They are beautiful birds. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  12. It is a beautiful park and you have spotted lovely birds.

  13. Those are wonderful pictures of an all-time favorite of mine; one of my spark-birds! I was told by someone who seemed to know what she was talking about that Cedar Waxwings don't follow a set migration path, one of the few species that do not. This kind of goes along with what you are saying here. Thank you for the beauty and memories. (I haven't seen any in Florida, but did see some last summer in Oregon.)

  14. Really enjoyed seeing the photos of the park and the Cedar Waxwings. A passing flock stopped on my deck earlier this year. I really hope they'll stop back by sometime. I enjoyed your amazing photos of such beautiful birds.

  15. What a nice walkway to really get out on the land where trails would be difficult. Of course it's neat to see the Cedar Waxwings. They pass through this part of FL in the winter but only stay a day or two. So you have to be lucky to even spot them. Enjoy your holiday weekend!

  16. Hello Ken!:) Absolutely gorgeous captures of the beautiful Cedar Waxwings. What a stunner!!

  17. You managed to get some extraordinary 'action' shots of the waxwings!! They're beautiful, aren't they?

    Pretty park!

    Before I leave, I want to send along my thanks for linking in at I'd Rather B Birdin' to share this post with us!!

  18. In some ways it's nice to see bits of improvement, but when they tear down the very things they are supposed to preserve it rather bothers me.

  19. Great birds - I ticked waxwings in the UK from a bus! I got off at the next stop and walked back for a better look - I ended up late for work! Good times.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  20. So much enjoyed seeing your photos of the Cedar Waxwings in Illinois. Batavia is not far from Aurora where I grew up! This spring I saw a small flock of these birds in my area in Texas. Had never seen them before and enjoyed the photos that I was able to get. thanks for sharing the beauty of illinois

  21. What beautiful pictures.... a lovely place. :)

  22. Beautiful pictures and interesting info about the cedar waxwings. One year I had a group of them visit my cherry tree but I haven't seen them since. Love your last picture, cedar waxwing & elderberry bush.

  23. The cedar Wazwing is such a pretty and distinctive bird I love the yellow tip of their tail! You must have been watching for some time to be able to figure out it was plucking the pinecones:) Many thanks for sharing their acrobatic acts with All Seasons!
    Couldn't figure out if you like the improvement at Lippold park of not? In any case have a great week!

  24. This bird is so gorgeous! It looks very classy and your shots are terrific.

  25. to my recollection, i've never seen a waxwing. they are pretty birds.

  26. A wonderful place to visit and the birds are beautiful.

  27. I always enjoy so much your very beautiful images!
    Lovely birds.

  28. Some great improvements! And I love your cedar waxwing photos. Such wonderful tips of yellow on the tail and red on the wings as though it had visited a plein air artists pallete for a moment before flying off!

  29. Exceptional captures, Kenneth! These masked-bandits are one of my favorite birds. Your post was a treat!


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