Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Today is a Cedar Waxwing Day.  Every so often they come through in large flocks, and then I won't see another one for months.  Technically, they are year-round residents of this area, but it sure seems like they're migrating!  

At any rate, they didn't choose the prettiest day to be here.  As this photo shows, they are all facing the same direction -- which is west, into the extreme winds we are experiencing at the beginning of what they say will be a crazy storm.   (Note the ash leaves are all blowing to the side, and it was quite dark for the middle of the afternoon!  Not good for showing their black masks, etc.  But I promise, those are waxwings in the picture!)  It was so windy that I saw one fly backwards, I don't think on purpose, and several hovering in one spot before finally landing on the tree again.

Anyone know this little blue flower?  I found it at school, and am not entirely uncertain of its identity.  But my guess is Lewis' prairie flax.  I bought seeds of this prairie (but west of here) native at Monticello 2 years ago as part of a seed collection of plants that were discovered on or named by or were otherwise related to the Lewis and Clark expedition.  (The collection also included Clarkia, monkey flower, w. Jacob's ladder, osage orange, blanketflower and others -- plus a booklet about them!)  I thought the flax was quite lovely and planted it in my garden, despite it being not technically native to Illinois, where it now grows in 3 clumps.  Chris also planted some of the seeds at school, and this may be one of them.  Mine aren't close to blooming yet, but this one is in a sunnier spot.  When mine opens, I will be able to confirm the identity (or disconfirm it).  I could also study the leaves of the plant at school... but that sounds like work. 

Speaking of Monticello... Thomas Jefferson took some pretty meticulous and informative phenology notes... so I guess I'm in good company.  (I suppose I am presuming that my phenology notes are informative and/or meticulous.)

Another observation!!!  Butterflyweed emerged today, just peeking up, less than 1/2 inch tall.  (Yea!  I was worried... And now, for next year, I'll know not to worry until after May 15 or so!)


  1. Congratulations on finally finding your butterflyweed alive and well!

    Every June I know that when I see cedar waxwing families hanging around the river, a major mayfly hatch is about to happen. So if you want to see a whole bunch hanging out together and skimming newly hatched bugs off the water, you'll have to make a river pilgrimage with me next month. Then you won't have to go months waxwingless.

  2. Doesn't the waxy wings inhibit their flying kind of like ice build up on the wing of a plane?