Cedar Waxwings! Flickers!

Cedar Waxwings Outside My Office Window

Sometime this last week, my little corner of New Mexico decided that Spring just might be a good idea.  For those of you who don’t know New Mexico weather, let me clarify…  This doesn’t mean we won’t have more snow.  Since I’ve lived here in Albuquerque, we’ve had snow as late as May.

It doesn’t mean we won’t have frost.  One year, after I planted my seedlings, in early May, we had a cold enough night that all the leaves were nipped off my peppers.  Oddly enough, the stems were fine.  I babied the shorn plants along, and we ended up with a good harvest.

Spring in New Mexico is not a gentle season with drip-drip-drop little April showers.  It’s a season of violent winds, dust storms, hot days, and freezing nights.

The signs of spring are subtle, but no less exciting for that.  One of my favorites is when the migrating birds start passing through and our summer residents return.  Just this week we saw our first quail, possibly the couple who routinely use our yard as one of their foraging areas.  We also saw the flickers (a sort of woodpecker) who have been co-residents of our yard for years.

Our winter resident juncos haven’t moved on, but we’re seeing some of the early migrants coming through.  In addition to the tough gang of juvenile robins who usually move in for a few weeks to take advantage of free water and great bathing facilities, we had new visitors.

When I first saw the cedar waxwings drinking from the pond, what clued me in that these slim brown birds were not our usual house sparrows and finches wasn’t the brilliant spots of red on their wings or the fact that the tips of their tails looked as if they’d been dipped in a bucket of bright yellow paint.  It was the way they drank: dipping in their beaks, then tossing back their heads with the enthusiasm of college students doing shots.

Then I took a closer look and saw the bright splashes of color, grabbed our favorite quick-ID bird book (Birds of New Mexico by Stan Tekiela) and made an identification.

Although most of the native trees and shrubs have the good sense to wait until later to start putting out leaves, the weeds and ground covers are starting to leaf out.  Wild mustard is a pain, but I do like spectacle pod and some of the other weeds which will give us our first flowers.

The calendar indicates that several more weeks must pass before Spring officially arrives, but the promise is flying through and splashing down in my birdbath.

2 Responses to “Cedar Waxwings! Flickers!”

  1. Harried Harry Says:

    Here in Las Cruces, my plums are in full bloom and the other fruit trees in the area are doing the same. Of course, gardening is still a work in progress. My neighbor plans to wait till mid April before he plants anything. I’m not sure what I’ll plant; maybe just flowers and tomatoes. I’m very happy for Spring, but my wife hates the wind!
    Enjoy the birds, we have many new ones arriving but I haven’t put out any feeders (yet).

    • janelindskold Says:

      Our seeds arrived yesterday. Bird feeders are a winter thing for us. We bring them in when the environment can support the birds. And we help the environment do so by leaving a variety of native plants in our yard.

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