Nesting Cedar Waxwings – Photographing Them Is A Challenge

/, Cedar Waxwings, Little Emigration Canyon, Summit County, Utah/Nesting Cedar Waxwings – Photographing Them Is A Challenge

Cedar Waxwing in Summit County, UtahCedar Waxwing in Summit County, Utah – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1000, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I’ve been photographing nesting Cedar Waxwings and I have to say that it tests my skills and is a true challenge because of the light, how quickly these birds move and the cluttered habitat.

The Cedar Waxwings are building their nest in a hawthorn, the bright leaves plus the dead sections of the tree presents their own difficulties but typically this pair of waxwings fly directly into the nest with great speed and spend very little time out in the open. I noticed that on occasion they do perch out in the open after taking nesting materials to the nest. But the setting can be cluttered as shown in the photo above.

Cedar Waxwing perched on a Hawthorn, Little Emigration Canyon, Summit County, UtahCedar Waxwing perched on a Hawthorn – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1250, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There were a few times yesterday morning when the clutter was minimal and I appreciated the birds perching in those locations, especially when there wasn’t much in the way of obstructions in front of the birds.

Adult Cedar Waxwing tilting it head, Little Emigration Canyon, Summit County, UtahAdult Cedar Waxwing tilting it head – Nikon D500, f8, 1/640, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The bright leaves, shadowed parts of the hawthorn were also a challenge because of tricky exposures. I had to decrease my exposure for this image because of the dark parts of the background but I think it worked nicely for this image.

Cedar Waxwing in a Hawthorn, Little Emigration Canyon, Summit County, UtahCedar Waxwing in a Hawthorn – Nikon D500, f8, 1//800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There were a few times I took images that might have had more vegetation in the frame than I would have liked. This image might be a little “busy” for some people’s tastes but I loved the pose of the bird.

Cedar Waxwing with nesting material in its bill, Little Emigration Canyon, Summit County, UtahCedar Waxwing with nesting material in its bill – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Most of the images I took where the waxwings had nesting materials in their bill were complete disasters because of branches or leaves being in the way which is why I appreciated this one opportunity to have the bird out in the open with nesting material in its bill even though the background is a tad cluttered.

Adult Cedar Waxwing perched out in the open, Little Emigration Canyon, Summit County, UtahAdult Cedar Waxwing perched out in the open – Nikon D500, f8, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I wish this waxwing would have had nesting materials but this was taken after the bird had delivered materials to the nest and seemed to be taking a short break.

Cedar Waxwing camouflage, Little Emigration Canyon, Summit County, UtahCedar Waxwing camouflage – Nikon D500, f8, 1/640, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Finding Cedar Waxwings isn’t easy because they blend into their habitat so well as they did with the hawthorn tree they have chosen to build their nest in. More often than not I hear Cedar Waxwings before I see them and when I hear them I stop and carefully look around. From a distance the bird in this photo might not be visible to some people at all.

I hope to photograph this pair of waxwings more in the future. As an FYI, I was at a distance equal to being across the road from this hawthorn and using a long lens with a teleconverter, I would never get closer than that. Lately I have seen a ton of nest images on social media lately where I know people had to get right up to the nest to take their photographs, I don’t do that and won’t do that for the safety of the eggs, chicks and birds.

Life is good.

Mia

PS: I am having a visual migraine this morning and have “holes” in my field of vision, if I have made typing or grammatical mistakes I will try come back later and fix them.

11 Comments

  1. Sybill Reed June 14, 2018 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    Hi sweetie! Sorry about your headache! I had them for year While I was working! Glad they do not happen often now! Beautiful birds! wonderful shooting color is very sharp! We had them in Michigan when I was growing up! I have not seen them here in Va. Love mom

  2. Elephants Child June 14, 2018 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    I am very glad to hear the migraine is reducing. Vicious things. I well remember helplessly vomiting with them.
    Love the wax-wings. And the business is a reflection of their lives…

  3. Pepe Forte June 14, 2018 at 11:19 am - Reply

    What a wonderful collection of shots. I had no idea Cedar Waxwings were so beautiful. I love how they stand out, even against a busy background. Thanks Mia.

    As for your migraines…I feel your pain, I get them too. Unless you like the feeling of your brain exploding…they are no fun. Hope you rebound quickly.

  4. Patty Chadwick June 14, 2018 at 10:38 am - Reply

    So sorry that you suffer with migraines…they are so miserable!!! In spite of it, you managed to post a beautiful series…thank you….

  5. Cindy June 14, 2018 at 9:01 am - Reply

    Never share your passion Mia because you feel you have to. You come first. We had waxwings in Draper visit on occasion at our pond. They are sleek and mysterious it seems. Now go take a nap. 🙂

  6. Julie Baudier June 14, 2018 at 7:30 am - Reply

    Thank you Mia
    I am enjoying your work .

  7. Liz Cormack June 14, 2018 at 6:03 am - Reply

    Beautiful photos. I hope that migraine moves on. Horrid things.

    • Mia McPherson June 14, 2018 at 7:12 am - Reply

      Thank you Liz.

      Migraine is decreasing in intensity now thankfully.

  8. Stu June 14, 2018 at 5:53 am - Reply

    Thanks very much for posting your excellent images and the information and for your concern for the birds. Best wishes.

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