Berry-eating birds flock to the Wildflower Center


While admiring possumhaw hollies (Ilex decidua) at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center last Friday, I couldn’t help noticing lots of birds doing the same. A solitary cedar waxwing commuted for snacks from a bald cypress, where my son was able to get a few photos of it.


Cedar waxwings are such handsome birds, with their smooth, brown backs and chests, butter-yellow tummies, and robber’s masks.


I’d never noticed the flash of red on their wings.


Here’s where the feast was held.


Possumhaw berries are at peak redness right now, and there are still plenty of them.


Soon the birds will strip them bare, so enjoy them now.


Aside from the cedar waxwing, we saw mockingbirds devouring berries.


And tufted titmice


Like the cedar waxwing, this tufted titmouse darted back and forth between the possumhaw and a sheltering bald cypress.


We even spotted a vole (I think) gathering snacks at ground level.


One more look at the cedar waxwing.

Are you noticing lots of bird activity in your garden too?

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Upcoming Events and News

Join me for my kick-off garden talk for my new book, The Water-Saving Garden, on February 27, at 10 am, at The Natural Gardener nursery in southwest Austin. My talk is called “Hold the Hose! How to Make Your Garden Water Thrifty and Beautiful,” and it’s free to the public. Afterward I’ll have books available for purchase and will be glad to autograph one for you! Dress for the weather, as the talk will be held in the big tent outside.

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All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

18 Responses

  1. Shirley says:

    Both birds and berries are beautiful! It does look like a vole, I see them occasionally going for birdseed under our feeder.

    We mostly have Cardinals now and Cedar Waxwings have been rare recently so I hope to fix that when my new Possumhaw holly starts to produce berries.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I love watching cardinals and Carolina wrens at home, but I’d really love to see a flock of cedar waxwings in my garden (never have yet). I’m also on the lookout for a screech owl. It’s the nesting season, and I hope to see a little face peeking out of our owl box soon. —Pam

  2. Melody McMahon says:

    We have lots of cedar waxwings in our neighborhood. I usually hear them before seeing them since they have such a distinctive call. Last week there were 4 that had flown into our barn and couldn’t figure out how to fly out. They spent the night in there even though I’d put a saucer of water and some berries out for them. I’ve found 2 dead on the ground in years past and got to see up close how intricate their markings are. Such beautiful birds!

  3. Love seeing the birds and wildlife at the Center. Cedar Waxwings are some of my favorite birds. We have a resident Mockingbird too. He has been protecting the holly berries in our front yard. He doesn’t like to share but the cardinals etc get in there whenever possible for a treat.

  4. Melody McMahon says:

    Pam, thanks for telling me about Kate Breakey’s book, Small Deaths. I just went online and watched a Youtube video about it and checked out her website. Very talented artist!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      You’re welcome, Melody. She often has showings at Stephen L. Clark Gallery in Austin, if you ever want to see her work in person. And I have one myself that I’ll show you the next time you’re here. —Pam

  5. rickii says:

    The birds had been laying low during the downpours but with sunshine they are back. I must find something with which to tempt the cedar waxwings. In the meantime, your photos will do.

  6. Xericstyle says:

    Your son’s photos rock! I especially love the first one. Future blogger? Photographer?
    Cedar waxwing is one of my husband’s favourite birds, I had not seen one until now. Now I see why….beautiful bird!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I saw a whole flock of them land in a client’s tree once, Xericstyle. I got so distracted by the beautiful birds that I had to ask her to repeat what she’d just said. —Pam

  7. Renee says:

    That tufted titmice is adorable! Maybe i don’t pay enough attention, but we only seem to get sparrows and such. Such nice pictures by your son… thanks to him for letting you share them with us.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I mostly see wrens, sparrows, and white-winged doves in my own garden, Renee. But patient watching often turns up sightings of cardinals, blue jays, tufted titmice, and goldfinches as well. I would love to put out bird feeders to attract more, but I don’t want to encourage Austin’s healthy population of rodents. —Pam

  8. I’d love to visit the wildflower center… At any time of year there’s something to see. I have the usual sparrows, juncos, titmice, and cardinals around my feeder. We are coming up to the Great Backyard Bird Watch next weekend and wondering if there will be any surprises because of El Nino — warmest winter on record in my corner of PA. P. x

  9. Wendy Moore says:

    Those are gorgeous birds, and gorgeous photos!

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