The Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum).
The bird colored by the paint of sunsets, with purples and reds and a tail dipped in sunlight yellow.
|Photo courtesy Huevos Rancheros (March15, 2010)|
I remember when I first noticed this avian masterpiece, just a little over a year ago. This bird was art; even the crest on its head resembled a paintbrush.
It would be a month or so later that I would first hear the term “Spark Bird,” along with a litany of terms used fluently within the birding community.
A few months after this, I would be fluent in that language too, but that’s a different story.
So what is a Spark Bird, exactly? This is the term given to the bird species that ignites within a person a spark and a passion for birding.
Ken Keffer asks, “Do you remember the moment you were first fully captivated by nature? Can you pinpoint the split second that changed you from a casual observer to someone passionate about the outdoors?” He later says, “Spark birds ignite curiosity and fuel the desire to learn more about nature, leading you to a lifetime of birdwatching.” See Ken’s article,“Spark Birds: Learning to LoveBirdwatching”
After first seeing the brightly colored Cedar Waxwing (usually surrounded by other waxwings, making their characteristic high buzzy/buggy sounds), I began to notice more of them, more frequently. The Cedar Waxwing became a symbol of the spirit of the start of my birding journey. That spirit is one that continues to guide me; it is one of gratitude and constant wonder.
As William Butler Yeats says,
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
Today, my senses have sharpened. I can pick out the calls of the Cedar Waxwings, trilling out across summer evenings. I can read their silhouettes amid trees on the sides of highways. I can sometimes even predict which trees they’ll flock to, especially those short, berry-filled ones that grow in parking lots. I can recall their flight patterns as they hover attack insects mid-air, then fly back to exposed branch perches.
It came as no surprise when the Cedar Waxwing was the subject of my first random teaching moment in birding. As a complete stranger was walking by in the woods, I was watching a Cedar Waxwing above me. I witnessed the man scan the branches and I pointed and gave instructions, guiding his line of sight. I saw his face change and alight when he found the magical bird; then he looked at me with appreciation. I felt like I had passed along something meaningful that day.
How about you?
Do you have a spark bird?
Share your stories with me!