In response to your Jan. 24 column about robins and waxwings (http://www.mercurynews.com/gary-bogue/ci_19802480), I’m attaching a couple pictures of what I’ve been calling Robin Con 2012.
Like others, we normally notice flocks of robins and waxwings in January, but this year the robin count has been off the charts. John H’s description in your column sounds much like our yard, with the birdbaths completely occupied and more robins waiting around and trying to muscle in. We had the waxwings for a few days, but sadly, not as many or for as long as most years. Last year we didn’t see the waxwings at all, so I hope they are not scratching the Bay Area off their winter visiting list.
In our neighborhood, the berry feast they are coming for is Japanese privet, which is a dreadfully invasive nonnative tree with nothing to recommend it except for the annual robin-waxwing extravaganza. Privets produce vast quantities of dark purple berries, and though I adore the birds who eat them, I do also refer to January as purple poo season, since the entire patio is covered with it. Later, I will have literally thousands of privet seedlings to pull up all over the yard. But I still feel privileged to get to share my yard and ring in every New Year with these spectacular flocks of birds.
Jess Kolman, Pinole, California
Seems like we used to have a lot more pyracantha berries and toyon berries growing throughout the Bay Area 20-30 years ago. The robins and cedar waxwings also paid us a regular annual visit in huge flocks. Ah, well, things change, especially when it concerns us humans. The environment never stays the same for too long when we’re around.
At least the robins and waxwings appear to be back again in large numbers this year (some areas also report lots of waxwings) … even if we have to endure “purple poo season” to see them. /Gary