Early every spring, a flock of well over a hundred cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) visit our yard to chow down on the berries that are on our yaupon holly trees. These birds have a very strong social structure; going everywhere as a group.
They do like berries of all kinds. While we've seen them eating juniper berries too, it's most visibly obvious that they especially love the yaupon holly berries. Before the birds arrive, the holly trees are covered in bright red berries. After the birds feast for a several days, it's a challenge to find a berry left on the tree. The cedar waxwings even do us a great service by eating the berries that have fallen and cover the sidewalk.
It's comforting to see nature at work in these trees. All those berries don't go to waste; they nourish the beautiful birds. The trees likely benefit from the spreading of their seeds. Because the berries are removed, there's more room for the multitude of tiny white blooms that emerge shortly after. The bees and other pollinators LOVE the tiny white blooms. Gee, yaupon holly trees are like their own little eco system.
above: The flock of cedar waxwing in a liveoak tree that is about 40 feet from the holly trees.
above: A closer view of the flock taking a break in the liveoak tree, in between berry feasts.
above: The two larger of our yaupon holly trees - after the cedar waxwings have been eating their berries for a few days. Before the birds arrive, these trees will look like a mound of red due to all the vibrant red berries covering them. The birds are very thorough. They not only land on the top of the tree to feed, they also fly under the main branches and up into the tree to reach ALL of the berries. We have a third yaupon holly tree that is much smaller, 'cause it's new and young.
above: A closer view of the yaupon holly berries.
Interesting fact, the young leaves and even the twigs of the yaupon holly can be used to make a tea. We made some tea last year and it was pretty good.
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