Wax Not Out

Well folks, I have officially unofficially entered in a new phase of my life as of 4:00pm today. I say unofficially in the sense I am still employed, but on permanent vacation until February 1st of 2021 until it becomes technically official. So I still have my work computer and will still help my colleagues out if they come calling in an emergency – I do not expect that to really happen as I’ve been training my replacement since May and he along with the rest of my coworkers are plenty capable of dealing with the day to day decisions that come with the job. That means yours truly has a lot more time on his hands for those tasks that have been neglected over the years – not to mention a honey-do list that was apparently started from what I can tell at least 5 years ago. She was nice enough not to hand the ream of paper into about 4:03pm ha. No worries, I promise to find some time to get my posts out. I had intended to give you a link to a gift I was given during my work send-off happy hour. After about 2 hours of fighting to get it to properly process on Smugmug I had to give up (hey, I’m on tight retirement schedule!). Anyway, it was a personal retirement goodbye from a Mr. James Faulkner or should I say Randyll Tarley from Game of Thrones. As someone who happens to be a big fan of GoT, I have to admit.. that was awesome. In fact, the entire celebration was wonderful – The memories – they highlighted the funny and embarrassing ones of course – and seeing everyone’s faces was truly overwhelming. As I had predicted in a previous post..incredibly emotional. Told my wife afterwards I had to retire now as I couldn’t possibly go through that again. We’ll see how life after work goes. For now, let’s get this kicked off on the right foot and get straight to our featured feathered friend of the day.

Cedar Waxwing found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in June 2017

Thought I’d bring you a bit of color in celebration of the day. It has been pretty miserable around here weather-wise as of late with cold winds, a dusting of snow and pretty much 3 days of overcast and rain so far – probably all the tears I was trying to hold back during the celebration. For those not familiar with our brightly feathered friend, it is a Cedar Waxwing. One of the few really colorful birds that hang around in our region through the cold seasons. We do have the Northern Cardinal and that ass of a bird the Blue Jay which definitely add color to the dreary winter backdrop where the other brightly feathered birds like the American Goldfinch put on their dull coats for the chilly season.

Cedar Waxwing found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in June 2017

Hit the jump to learn a bit more about our smartly colorful friend!

These specimens were found while birding at Chain O’ Lakes State Park up in Spring Grove IL. a mere three years ago in June 2017 (yeah, I know, but truthfully, I’ve been giving Ron a chance to start posting on the “He Who Owes Me Bigly” event and as of late he’s been extremely busy so cutting him some slack). Prime directive once I get through the first 2 inches of stacked honey-do papers is to get all the really old entries popped off the post queue. Second directive is to proofread my good friend Brad M’s sure to be upcoming book on photography. Whoops, I digress, let’s get back to our Waxwing who has been sitting here patiently for some attention.

Cedar Waxwing found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in June 2017

The Cedar Waxing is a rather distinguished looking bird if you ask me. Sharp lines on the top and bottom half that frame an exquisite blending of brown and yellow across the breast. The bent back crest almost looks like the end of a feathered fountain pen complete with a tail that’s been dipped in yellow ink. The black mask is accentuated in white giving it a much more crisp form compared to its burglar counterpart the Common Yellowthroat (link here). My favorite feature of the Cedar’s color palette is the feature that led to its name, the red colored waxy secretions on the tips of the secondary wing feathers. Guess which part I ALWAYS struggle to get in the tin – congratulations if you said the red colored waxy secretions on the secondary wing feathers. Not sure what it is with the specimens I come upon, but they never want to give me a chance to tin them. Even went all the way back to my first series on this species back in January 2014 (link here) – no luck there either. Cornell’s website mentions they are not always easily seen – that I can attest to. If you look real close at the second image in this post (two up) you can just barely see a glimpse of the red about halfway down the wing. I’ve made a note to get a better shot of those waxy elements now that I’m on a long vacation.

Cedar Waxwing found at Chain O' Lakes State Park, Spring Grove, IL in June 2017

Oops, out of shots, better get to some interesting tidbits. So the Cedar Waxing species has an interesting region map. They breed up in Canada and then some tend to push a bit south to basically upper half of the US for year-round where some of them say screw you to the cold that takes over here in the winter and get their dipped yellow tails down to Costa Rica. You usually don’t see those wide bands on region maps between the breeding, year round and the nonbreeding – especially with the year round on top of the nonbreeding. Apparently the scientist are still trying to figure out the function of the red waxy tips beyond a possible attraction of mates. Pretty sure it is just to frustrate the hell out of me trying to get pictures of it – damn birds! Lastly, if you happen to be in the northeast and see a Cedar with an orangish tip, Cornell states that is due to a high honeysuckle berry diet during tail development – wonder what would happen if they ate too many blueberries!?!

Will call it there for the first unofficial official retirement post .. stay tuned folks, should be a healthy dose of posts coming your way once the holiday passes.

15 thoughts on “Wax Not Out”

  1. Nothing like getting called out directly. And I’ve not even been retired a full day yet either.
    The Waxwing coloring reminds me of the state fish of Hawaii, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Go ahead, use your favorite search engine and check out the coloring. BTW, Congrats on your retirement! Don’t let Linda talk to Jan, dont want a list like yours.

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    1. You know, rectangular triggerfish is a LOT easier to say/remember hehehe. Were you able to actually spell that ridiculous long name without looking it up? – if so, I bow to your superiority. Oh, and you are absolutely correct it does have a similar coloring. As far as being called out.. it was more of soft, gentle nudge to get your own retirement off to a good start hehehe. As far as Linda goes, she was buttering me up all week – gave me a big surprise and got me a retirement cake (which I had already written off due to the pandemic), fixing me breakfast, running errands, not riding me too much about my trail runs … then whomp, the list hit the table. Linda just asked for Jan’s number hehehe. Thanks for dropping in Brad and only a few hours into the unofficial official retirement and it is feeling great.

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  2. Do love Waxwings but their occurrence here in the UK is sporadic. They come over from Scandinavia when food supplies in the winter over there run short, some years we never see any (these are not your Cedars btw but Bohemians). One thing I find is they can be very approachable. My earliest memory, probably ’63, was my father taking me to our small holding to see Waxwings which were along the approach road devouring the hawthorn berries.
    Btw check your retirement date at the start of your post, time traveller?

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    1. Crap, that was a test for my proofer (Brad M) and he failed miserably hehehe.. guess I won’t be writing a book anytime soon hehe – thanks for the catch B – now fixed. I forgot to mention how sociable our Cedar’s are. I never see them alone and usually with a good number of friends. You are absolutely correct as far as approachable – they have no problem getting close to you and best of all, never have an issue with the big glass pointed at them. I will not deny, the Bohemian variety is near the top of my target birds – around here I have to travel a bit north, but I should have plenty of time to get that done this year – do you remember seeing the actual waxy tips?

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    1. Thank you! I told Linda with the US holiday it probably will not really sink in until Monday – or rather Sunday night when I am normally up until late basking in the glow of the laptop trying to get ready for the busy start of the week. Now I just have to worry about how many layers I need for the early morning run … now that is stress I don’t mind. Take it easy CJ!

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  3. yep, I already got my run in early this morning to make room for a big meal today! Might have to make an evening run as well based on the smells currently coming from Linda’s kitchen ha.

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