Dogwood Afternoon

The red osier dogwood, with its fiery twigs and creamy drupes, has long been one of my favorite trees—and has alway ranked high on the list of those preferred by frugivorous birds. And not just them: I have happy memories of watching southbound Philadelphia vireos and Canada warblers prying into the fruit clusters in search of hidden prey.

Alison very generously planted a small stand of stolonifera when she was designing our back yard, and it has thrived. These past days, as the late summer crop of fruit has begun to ripen, the dense foliage and bright red branches have been covered with birds, some of them on their way to the nearby seed feeders, most of them, though, concentrating on those fleshy “berries.” Gray catbirds, American robins, house finches, blue jays, common grackles, song sparrows, American goldfinches, and as many as five (!) northern mockingbirds at once have kept our little thicket lively, and it’s time for the warblers and vireos to show up, too.

This afternoon’s prize was a cedar waxwing, a lone adult which spent long minutes looking sulky as the mimids and robins created their usual bustling stir. Here in our yard, we often see waxwings overhead, but only rarely does one deign to land at this season. Hoping that this one is followed by many more—a hope firmed up by our lovely dogwoods.