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Cedar Waxwing

Bombycilla cedrorum

Description:

The Cedar Waxwing is a medium-sized, sleek bird with a large head, short neck, and short, wide bill. Waxwings have a crest that often lies flat and droops over the back of the head. The wings are broad and pointed, like a starling’s. The tail is fairly short and square-tipped. Color Pattern Cedar Waxwings are pale brown on the head and chest fading to soft gray on the wings. The belly is pale yellow, and the tail is gray with a bright yellow tip. The face has a narrow black mask neatly outlined in white. The red waxy tips to the wing feathers are not always easy to see. Cedar Waxwings are social birds that you’re likely to see in flocks year-round. They sit in fruiting trees swallowing berries whole, or pluck them in mid-air with a brief fluttering hover. They also course over water for insects, flying like tubby, slightly clumsy swallows. Cedar Waxwings have two common calls: a high-pitched, trilled bzeee and a sighing whistle, about a half-second long, often rising in pitch at the beginning. Cedar Waxwings call often, especially in flight.

Habitat:

Look for Cedar Waxwings in woodlands of all kinds, and at farms, orchards, and suburban gardens where there are fruiting trees or shrubs

Notes:

Cedar Waxwings love fruit. To attract waxwings to your yard, plant native trees and shrubs that bear small fruits, such as dogwood, serviceberry, cedar, juniper, hawthorn, and winterberry. •The name "waxwing" comes from the waxy red secretions found on the tips of the secondaries of some birds. The exact function of these tips is not known, but they may help attract mates. •Cedar Waxwings with orange instead of yellow tail tips began appearing in the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada in the 1960s. The orange color is the result of a red pigment picked up from the berries of an introduced species of honeysuckle. If a waxwing eats enough of the berries while it is growing a tail feather, the tip of the feather will be orange. •The Cedar Waxwing is one of the few North American birds that specializes in eating fruit. It can survive on fruit alone for several months. Brown-headed Cowbirds that are raised in Cedar Waxwing nests typically don’t survive, in part because the cowbird chicks can’t develop on such a high-fruit diet. •Many birds that eat a lot of fruit separate out the seeds and regurgitate them, but the Cedar Waxwing lets them pass right through. Scientists have used this trait to estimate how fast waxwings can digest fruits. •Because they eat so much fruit, Cedar Waxwings occasionally become intoxicated or even die when they run across overripe berries that have started to ferment and produce alcohol. •Building a nest takes a female Cedar Waxwing 5 to 6 days and may require more than 2,500 individual trips to the nest. They occasionally save time by taking nest materials from other birds’ nests, including nests of Eastern Kingbirds, Yellow-throated Vireos, orioles, robins, and Yellow Warblers. •The oldest known Cedar Waxwing was 8 years, 2 months old.

1 species ID suggestions

18 Comments

SusanEllison
SusanEllison 2 years ago

thanks Liam...they are all over here too but the food source is way down now so I hear flying across looking for berries. they ate all the berries from the bradford pear trees which we have alot of in the area.

Liam
Liam 2 years ago

Great sighting and nice photos! I have about 200 of these guys in my yard!

SusanEllison
SusanEllison 2 years ago

thanks Marta

Such beautiful bird shots you have..amazing!

naturewinnie
naturewinnie 2 years ago

That's a beautiful bird!! I love it!

tiffanypr
tiffanypr 2 years ago

Incredible picture and clarity!

L E
L E 2 years ago

please add to "Birds of a Feather" mission

DoinaRussu
DoinaRussu 2 years ago

wonderful bird! great spotting, my compliments!

LauraMaria
LauraMaria 2 years ago

A gorgeous set of photos of a wonderful, uncommon bird! The European counterpart is the Bohemian waxwing, I have yet to see one! What gorgeous colours, nice job Susan!!

Stian Waaler
Stian Waaler 2 years ago

Fantastic pictures Susan!

Ismael Chaves
Ismael Chaves 2 years ago

Stunning!

SusanEllison
SusanEllison 2 years ago

I added some more shots that I took today

p.young713
p.young713 2 years ago

Very Pretty!

SusanEllison
SusanEllison 2 years ago

thanks Kat

KatCuff
KatCuff 2 years ago

beautiful series!

SusanEllison
SusanEllison 2 years ago

They look so mysterious too

SusanEllison
SusanEllison 2 years ago

Thanks Emma...They are gorgeous birds...they made so much noise and I just drove up to the driveway and had to take some shots.

Houston, Texas, USA

Lat: 29.76, Long: -95.37

Spotted on Jan 15, 2012
Submitted on Jan 15, 2012

Related spottings

Bohemian Waxwing Bohemian waxwing Cedar Waxwings Cedar Waxwing

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White- Winged Dove Mourning Dove House Sparrow Common Starling