Mid-Winter Waxwings by Glen Sorestad

It is sudden – they appear, that’s all.

You have not seen a single waxwing
since winter cracked its cold work;
then one morning your mountain ash,
loaded with bright orange-red berries,
metamorphoses to bustling bird market in
the sub-zero weather, bursting
with the peaked cinnamon caps
of taupe-breasted Bohemian waxwings
with their bright yellow tail bands,
feasting on shriveled and shrunken
reddish berries they have ignored until
this bitter January day to harvest.

Why have they waited this long
to launch this feast? What have they
learned about the alluring ash berries
that they would forego the reaping
to this frigid day? What has nature
taught them, or how adapted them,
that these sociable banquet-goers
appear to be the sole creatures
to feast on the vermilion fruit?

This deep cold cameo appearance
when the rest of nature appears
both still and dormant is something
oddly rewarding; an electric surge
of excitement, even as you know
what you’ve witnessed is just a flock
of fifty common winter birds doing
what they must to survive prairie winter.
Even after they have stripped the tree
and departed en masse for tree sanctuaries
elsewhere, you feel a connection with them,
a genuine sense of discovery.

— from Juniper Volume 6, Issue 1