The Cedar Waxwing is a strikingly beautiful bird that is also maybe one of the most overlooked. You'll often see them alone or in pairs, but more often than not they will be in larger groups of 8 or 10, gathered in the upper canopy of a tree (not necessarily always a cedar). Gray, drab birds at quick glance, especially if they're back-lit, it's easy to just pass them by.

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But a closer look is well worth it. Bright yellow on the tip of the tail, fire-engine red on the tips of their central wing feathers, and a sheen to the warm brown chest feathers that is like silk. But it's probably the dark mask that is most striking. Every time I see a Cedar Waxwing, I think of Zorro, and catch myself humming the old Marty Robbins song "El Paso" (whoa, dating myself...).


Next time you see some "plain gray birds" in the top of a tree, take a closer look. You might be surprised to spot Feleena's lover.


Dan's Feathursday Feature is a weekly contribution to the COS blog featuring the thoughts, insights and pictures of Chicago birder, Dan Lory on birds of the Chicago region.