Cedar waxwings in flight

English: Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes...

As soon as I opened our back door this morning, my daughter Ella and I were greeted by a “WHOOOOOOSH!” much like the sound of a muffled muted airplane taking off. One hundred cedar waxwings had landed in our huge mountain ash tree, feeding on the old orange berries still remaining.

“WHHOOOOOOOOSHHHHH!” All one hundred lifted off again, wings beating together into the turquoise sky. Ella and I watched them land in the neighbor’s pine tree. They alighted for no more than ten seconds and then, “WHOOOOSSHHHHH!” They landed, lightly, quietly, simultaneously, back in the mountain ash tree, and then zipped away again.

“Wow, Mama!” said Ella, her big blue eyes grown wide. “Why those birds do that?” Instead of wishing that I were a wildlife biologist so that I could understand why and explain it to my two year old, I was mesmerized in the moment by that huge flock of birds moving as one.

I smiled back at her because I had no answer except to reply, “What a perfect way to start our day.”

We watched them repeat this cycle a few more times until, with a great flapping of little wings, they flew off towards the river.