Clothed with scarlet*

[For the adults who don’t read my Frog Blogs, here is a grownup post. I started this one a while ago, and it never got sent because I got distracted, but I thought you might enjoy it anyway, and I updated it with one more scarlet bird.]

American Robins (both sexes) have striking red breasts, and when you see one in a field it stands out from its surroundings in a way that seems to invite attention.

American robins

But then you see one in an apple tree amongst last year’s apples, and suddenly it almost disappears:


Cedar Waxwings, Bombycilla cedrorum,  are handsome birds:

cedar waxwings

And they too were eating the rotting apples as winter refused to relinquish its grip:

cedar waxwings

They are called waxwings after the vermillion tips of their wing feathers, apparently dipped in sealing wax by an unseen hand. You can see them peeping out on the lower of the two birds. Their Latin name Bombycilla means silky tail, because the plumage is especially soft. Wouldn’t you love to be able to touch one? I think it is why so they are very hard to photograph, because the feathers are extremely fine, and my brilliant camera struggles to focus!

And a month later, I saw this stunning Red-bellied Woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinus:


They are not rare, but for me it was my first glimpse. Like all our woodpeckers at this time of year they are drumming like crazy to attract a mate, which makes them easier to find in the woods. Why it is called Red-bellied when it has this flame-coloured head and nape, I cannot imagine.

* The robins in the snowy tree inspired my title,  from the King James’ Bible, Proverbs 31:21

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.  

4 thoughts on “Clothed with scarlet*”

  1. Gorgeous photos! I love Cedar Waxwings & the yellow on the tip of their tail is also so colorful. It seems like I only see the male Red-bellied, he’s been here all winter & spring, eating beef suet & the peanuts in the seeds I put out. I have a small feeder, suctioned to the kitchen sink window & he grabs food from that. The sound they make sounds to me like a big smacking kiss. You know they have a red patch of feathers on their lower belly?


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