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Thursday Dec. 29, 2022
The waxwings are back! They swirl in the air by their hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- dense clouds of feathered wings beating the air into froth.
As far as I can tell, waxwings do not have a leader giving orders. No individual waxwing says, “Okay, all of you, we’re going to go strip Jim Taylor’s tree of its berries.” They simply arrive. And then, for no apparent reason, they leave. All of them, all at once. They whoosh off, perform a variety of aerobatic manoeuvres. The cloud of birds inverts itself, reverses itself, spins upside down and sideways, emulates a Mobius strip, and returns to my tree for dessert.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: leadership, Waxwings, berries
On Thursday, our mountain ash tree was burdened with bright red berries. Globular blobs of berries hung at the end of every branch, weighing the branches down, bending the twigs.
By Saturday, the tree stood bare against a grey sky.
The Bohemian waxwings had returned. Every year, about this time, they come back. Maybe the timing has something to do with the birds’ migration patterns; maybe it depends on fermentation within the berries themselves. Whatever the reason, the waxwings show up in their thousands.
They start as a distant smudge on the sky. The smudge grows larger, becomes a coiling, roiling, boiling ball of dust motes, displaying the infinite possibilities of fractal math. And then whoosh, the birds arrive in a mighty flitter-flutter of wings, ravenous as a plague of locusts.
Tags: Waxwings, berries, mountain ash, yin and yang, herd instinct