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Plate No. 43: Cedar Bird
John J. Audubon published his signature work, The Birds of America, between 1827 and 1838. The collection featured 435 plates, his depiction of the Cedar Bird (known today as the Cedar Waxwing) can be found on plate number 43.
Below are experts containing Audubon’s observations of the Cedar Waxwing, taken from Ornithological Biographies, a book on bird habits that Audubon wrote to supplement his artwork.
“The appetite of the Cedar-bird is of so extraordinary a nature as to prompt it to devour every fruit or berry that comes in its way. In this manner they gorge themselves to such excess as sometimes to be unable to fly, and suffer themselves to be taken by the hand. Indeed I have seen some which, although wounded and confined in a cage, have eaten of apples until suffocation deprived them of life in the course of a few days. When opened afterwards, they were found to be gorged to the mouth.”
“It is a beautiful bird, but without any song, even during the breeding season, having only a note which it uses for the purpose of calling or rallying others of its species. This note is feeble, and as it were lisping, yet perfectly effectual, for when uttered by one in a flock within hearing of another party, the latter usually check their flight, and alight pellmell on the same tree.”
“They are excellent fly-catchers also, spending much of their time in the pursuit of winged insects. This is by way of dessert, and is not managed with the vivacity or suddenness of true fly-catchers, but with a kind of listlessness.”
“Their favourite place for their nest is generally the branch of an apple-tree in the orchard, its horizontal direction being apparently best adapted for their taste, although here they are frequently very insecure, the nest being seldom higher than ten feet from the ground, and often so low as to be seen into.”
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