Skip to main content

The Bohemian Waxwing in Colorado

Junius Henderson
4 (July-August)
From Field and Study
Online Text

The Bohemian Waxwing in Colorado

The Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrula), though erratic in its movements, visits Colorado in numbers every winter; but not within the memory of the oldest settler has it heretofore appeared along the eastern foothills and the western edge of the great plains in such large flocks as in 1917. It has attracted the attention of thousands of people who never noticed the species before, and who supposed that it was something unknown.

The first word I had of the arrival of these birds in the state was from Mr. O. De Motte, who reported a flock of a thousand at Wall Street, in the mountains of Boulder County, about January 10, and smaller flocks from time to time until March 5. Telephone communications reported large flocks at Longmont on February 25, in the orchards. On March 2, during a heavy snowstorm, and for several days thereafter, my office and house telephones were kept busy by numerous reports from excited men, women and children in various parts of Boulder, telling of the thousands of queer birds gathered in the orchards, and asking what they were, whence and why they came, where and when they were going. I was especially pleased with the interest shown by the teachers in seeking accurate information concerning the birds and their habits, for the benefit of their pupils.

The birds fed upon the frozen apples, a feast prepared for them by an unexpected freeze early last autumn. I counted five hundred waxwings in one tree and estimated that there were at least 10,000 or 15,000 within a radius of half a mile from the county court house. The large flocks began to break up about March 12, perhaps because the larger food supplies were giving out; but individuals and smaller flocks were seen daily until March 28. No Cedar Waxwings were seen. Reports of waxwings in equal abundance in Denver began to appea.r in the Denver newspapers a few days after their appearance in Boulder. A similar visitation was reported in Grand River Valley, on the western slope, several years ago, and then, as on this occasion at Boulder and Long mont, frozen apples provided them with a banquet.

Junius Henderson

Boulder, Colorado, April 11, 1917

Advanced Search