For the past couple of days, I have seen a group of 300-400 Cedar Waxwings foraging on Red Cedar fruits outside my building on campus. These are one of my favorite birds for a few reasons. Obviously, they are stunningly beautiful with crisp delineations of brilliant color on a sleek, compact body. Their beauty comes partially from their role as a seed disperser -- the brightly colored waxy tips of their secondaries are pigmented with carotenoids from red cedar and honeysuckle fruits, among others. Every time I see a waxwing, it is always foraging on fruit, and I love seeing the evidence of the tight relationship between plants and animals put so clearly and beautifully. I generally only see waxwings in the fall and winter when they travel in large groups. Their high-pitched calls are one of the few that I know instantly, maybe because I know that I'm in for a big treat when I hear them. I first saw them on a cedar outside of my parents' old house in Wisconsin - a group of a couple hundred that stayed there for a few days in October until they had completely depleted the cedar's cones and carried the seeds southwards. That was during the time when I was first discovering and falling in love with birds, and the magnificent spectacle of the large group made me realize that winter would now hold some promise of beauty and excitement (I'm not a winter person) now that I could look forward to seeing these big gregarious groups of birds. And, indeed, the winters in upstate NY were made much more enjoyable by the nightly passage of thousands of crows in Syracuse from the cemetary near ESF down to Lake Onondaga, and the rafts of Aythya ducks on Cayuga lake in Ithaca that looked like a continuous rolling mat of flapping squawking bodies. Now that I'm in Georgia, it seems almost too good to be true that I get to enjoy winter's pleasures while bathing in the sunlight of a 65 degree day.