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Cedar Waxwing

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Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Hal Trachtenberg

Common Name:

Cedar Waxwing, Yellow Waxwing

Scientific Name:

Bombycilla cedrorum

Appearance:

  • Bill: Slightly curved elongated cone, dark color or black
  • Size: 7-8 inches long with 11-inch wingspan, oval body
  • Colors: Gray, yellow, black, white, brown, tan, red
  • Markings: The overall body is grayish tan with a sharply angled black eye mask with a narrow white border on the bottom. The throat is darker, and there is a bright yellow band on the tip of the tail. Birds have a long brown head crest, white undertail coverts and a light yellow abdomen. Mature birds have bright red waxy tips on the secondary flight feathers.

Foods:

Fruit, insects, cedar cones, sap

Habitat and Migration:

Cedar waxwings are common throughout the continental United States, southern Canada and all of Mexico and Central America. Populations on the extreme edges of the birds’ range will migrate seasonally, otherwise the birds are nomadic as they pursue food sources. These birds can be found in rural, suburban and urban areas and are more populous where fruit trees can be found.

Vocalizations:

The cedar waxwing can be a very vocal bird, particularly when it travels in large flocks. The primary call is a high pitched, sharp buzzing whistle.

Behavior:

Cedar waxwings are very sociable, nonaggressive birds that often travel in large flocks, though they may pair off during breeding season. It is very rare to find solitary waxwings. Because they frequently feast on overripe fruit, these birds can become “drunk” on the fermented juices.

Reproduction:

The breeding season for cedar waxwings does not begin until mid-summer, when more ripe fruit is available to feed the young birds. A pair of cedar waxwings will raise 1-2 broods of 4-6 birds per season. The female bird does most of the incubation for 10-13 days but both parents will feed the nestlings during the 14-18 day fledgling phase.

Attracting Cedar Waxwings:

Cedar waxwings are very attractive birds that readily come to backyards. Birders can encourage visits from these flocks by planting native trees and shrubs that bear fruit and berries as well as by providing water for bathing. Fruit should be left on plants throughout the winter. Cedar waxwings will also take chopped apples, raisins and cranberries from platform feeders.

Similar Birds:

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