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  • harrystigner

Waxwing winters

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

I chose a waxwing as my latest card design to accompany my 'A is for Apples' Fox's Alphabet as they're apparently partial to apples and pears in the late autumn.

I've never seen a 'Waxwing Winter', when huge flocks fly to the UK because fruit is scarce in their summer breeding grounds in Scandinavia and Russia. I've discovered that this is known as an 'irruption', as oppose to a seasonal migration, and that it happens every few years in Britain. Beautifully described in this Tweet of the day podcast as 'punk crested plunderers', Aberdeen in Scotland is apparently the best place to spot them, but from afar you might mistake them for starlings in flight.

Waxwing bird card illustrated in vivid watercolours by Harry Stigner shown in two sections a wing on the left in grey and red an the body and head in profile facing right of screen in grey, cream and yellow, claws resting on a stick
One of my illustrated bird cards, with space for a secret message beneath the wing.

Also fond of rowan trees, it's no surprise that these beauties are frequent visitors to Scotland. I've always loved the anecdote that a distant cousin of mine, born in the highlands, was named Rowan after the trees of the same name that surrounded his childhood home.

Head to the RSPB's page on waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) to find out more.

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