|Species: Cedar Waxwing
The Cedar Waxwing
is a common but irregular bird in any habitat where fruit and other
foods such as tree buds, flowers and insects are found. They are a
migratory woodland bird breeding across Canada and USA as far south
as Mexico, wintering in the southern portion of their range. They
are plump Sparrow-sized fly-catching and fruit eating birds with an
upright stature, soft cinnamon colors and silky plumage with
distinctive waxy red tips on wing secondaries and a yellow terminal
tail band. They were named for the red wax-like tips on wing.
In summer the Cedar Waxwings are rather inconspicuous, often heard
before seen but after breeding season they flock together and travel
in flocks of 40 or more incessantly calling, turning and twisting in
flight, frequently alighting in the same tree.
Medium sized bird with large head, short neck and short wide bill
17-20 cm long with wing span approx. 30cm and weighs about 32 grams.
They are trim, crested bird with silky brownish red plumage with
black mask and chin, yellow belly, white undertail coverts and
yellow terminal tail band. There is little or no white on wings.
The oldest known Cedar Waxwing was 8 years, 2 months old.
Both male and female show waxy red tips on wing secondaries. Adult
males have stronger mask and chin markings.
Adult Female: similar marking to adult male
Juvenile: Juveniles have indistinct grey streaked breast, in general
have a duller greyer appearance.
Bohemian Waxwing has white and yellow wing markings and a rust red
vent area. They are larger and heavier than the cedar Waxwings and
are not as reddish coloured.
In summer inconspicuous but after breeding season flock up, known
for their dazzling aeronautics In summer you’re as likely to find
them flitting about over rivers in pursuit of flying insects and
winter flocks turn and twist in synchronized flight before alighting
in the same tree. They will occasionally become intoxicated if they
ingest overripe fruit that has started to ferment.
Cedar Waxwings are usually found in mixed forests and edges where
their favourite foods of berries and insects are found. They are
found in the proximity to humans as there is usually an abundance of
berries in the Orchards and city parks.
Waxwings nest in both rural and urban environments. Often this is in
close proximity to humans, perhaps because of the greater likelihood
of finding fruits or berries when needed. Most arrive on their
breeding ground in late May and early June. Autumn departure is
usually in late August and September, but if rearing second broods,
may be into October
The nest consists of a loose configuration of twigs and grass woven
onto a horizontal branch and bolstered with mosses and lichens. 3 –
6 blue-grey dotted eggs are usual. The cedar waxwing is the latest
bird to initiate nesting as they time it to have ripe fruit for
Voice: Often heard before they are seen their call is a high
sibilant see-e-e , sometimes lightly trilled.
populations are increasing throughout their range, in part because
of reversion of fields to shrublands and forests and the use of
berry trees such as mountain ash in landscaping. Cedar Waxwings do
appear to be vulnerable to window collisions as well as being struck
by cars as the birds feed on fruiting trees along roadsides.
Capture rates of Cedar Waxwing (2010-2012; standardized as
birds captured per 100 net hours) peak in late spring
through summer (May - September). Prominent fruit eaters,
high numbers of waxwings were caught in June corresponding
to the peak of fruiting shrubs like elderberry at Colony
Farm. Cedar Waxwing are medium distance migrants, moving
south for the winter as seen by our zero capture rate
between October - April.