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Ramblings 3/13

Don't miss the great spring skiing out there now! The railroad track south from North Creek is going to be good for a while, past where the power line crosses the river. I also skied in towards Moose Pond off the Santanoni trail on Sunday afternoon and it was excellent skiing once the sun softened the "concrete." Everyone I met was grinning ear to ear. Unfortunately, there are few other choices around here for novices or old-timers like me, where a long distance trail (seven miles to Moose Pond) is fairly flat and the snow stays late.

On March 11, I picked my way through a foot of snow in a Warrensburg parking lot when a light, high trilling caught my attention. Above me in the small trees a flock of sleek cedar waxwings was eating the tiny dried (unknown to me) fruits. As I tried to get a better look at the birds, they would move to another tree, but they weren't about to leave the bonanza. I don't see them in winter up here, but I read that they move in flocks all winter from one area to another in search of berries - feeding until a source is gleaned bare. Unfortunately, many of the berries they find now are on invasive shrubs that spread by means of bird droppings.

Cedar waxwings get their name from the small native tree, redcedar (one word), actually a juniper, where they feed on the tiny cones. We have very few in the Adirondacks, though, they are common farther north in calcitic areas of Canada. Waxwing food is 70 percent berries, flowers and sap, with insects being an important food for the young for just their first few days. After that, the adults carry berries, up to 30 chokecherries at a time, in pouches in their necks to feed the young. They also do a lot of fly-catching from snags along the Hudson in the summer, landing on rocks in the river between flights.

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