Cedar Waxwing

IMG_3846A small flock of Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) visited my Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) today. A visual treat! Fruit-lovers, they favor this winter delicacy.

IMG_3856 - Version 2

Cornell’s All About Birds describes them so well:

“…the Cedar Waxwing is a silky, shiny collection of brown, gray, and lemon-yellow, accented with a subdued crest, rakish black mask, and brilliant-red wax droplets on the wing feathers. In fall these birds gather by the hundreds to eat berries, filling the air with their high, thin, whistles. In summer you’re as likely to find them flitting about over rivers in pursuit of flying insects, where they show off dazzling aeronautics for a forest bird.”

Note the red 'wax' just visible on the wing.

Note the red ‘wax’ just visible on the wing.

They are one of my favorite birds. In summer, when I sit down by the river, I love to watch them as they swoop to and fro catching insects, their ‘zhee-zhee’ calls filling the air. It is by their distinctive call that I most often identify them, as I will hear them before I see them.

This may be a juvenile. It lacks the deeper color of the adult.

This may be a juvenile. It lacks the deeper color of the adult.

About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
This entry was posted in Field Notes, My Photos and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Cedar Waxwing

  1. Thank you for the link to their call, Eliza. We have a shrub here called mahonia. I never saw it in Massachusetts but you may know it? Also known as grape holly. One day, when the berries were nice and ripe, I saw the entire bush bouncing up and down and it was cedar waxwings, I later determined. I thought they looked like little cardinals in a way. I can’t wait to see if they come again and fingers crossed I get another show because once they devoured all the berries, I never saw them again.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      I do know the mahonia and having a fruit, I’m sure they loved it! I have found them to be nomadic, roaming in flocks from food source to food source. I used to have an apple tree out back that had apples that would stay attached, frozen and rotted, all winter and usually in January I would get flocks for few days until they were devoured. Drunk cedars and robins all over the place. 😉

  2. Sue Vincent says:

    Oh they are beautiful, Eliza! Lovely pictures too!

  3. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Beautiful birds, beautiful berries and beautiful photos Eliza. We occasionally get winter visiting waxwings here in Ireland – they are Bombycilla garrulus, but quite similar to your ones. I haven’t recorded them around us yet – but we have lots of rowan trees now (and they like rowan berries) so maybe we will see them here in the future.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      B. garrulus – very vociferous, eh? love that name. We supposedly get those as well, though I haven’t seen any here. I hope you get some in your rowan trees.
      Thanks for your kind comments and visit!

  4. These are such excellent photos, Eliza!

  5. Maria F. says:

    Beautiful, thanks for sharing!

  6. Beautiful Bird. One of my favorite pass times is watching the birds. I have about 6 Blue Jays that come to my feeder and they are so pretty I never get tired of watching them.

  7. mk says:

    These are really exceptional photos, Eliza. The lack of color in the background and the bright red of the berries focus my attention on the birds. And the birds! They are quite beautiful.

  8. So beautiful. Thank you so much for these wonderful photographs.

  9. Robbie says:

    awww…you captured their beauty! LOVELY:-) They are “stunning” birds. I love their markings + when they grace me with their beauty on my city lot, I just stand in awe…..they are beauties…
    Happy New Year Eliza!!!!

  10. seedbud says:

    Such beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing Eliza.

  11. Beautiful, plant and bird both! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Joanne says:

    They are such pretty birds, Eliza, and so different to the birds we have in Australia. The photos are gorgeous too, the red berries really pop out against the background.

  13. ladyfi says:

    What gorgeous shots!

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  15. Rebecca says:

    Such a lovely little fellow this bird is, and such lovely photos, too. It’s my dream one day to get a camera that’s good enough to take photos of all the birds I love near where I live — they are so hard to capture without good equipment. (That’s my excuse, anyway … ) Happy new year, Eliza, and may 2015 bring you lots of happiness, health and lovely moments on your patch of paradise.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you Rebecca, waxwings are such lovely subjects. I bought a long lens just for birds, but would really need to spend a bundle to get one where I’d don’t have to get 20′ away. I have to creep slowly towards my subjects in hopes that they won’t take flight. When I go to bird sanctuaries and see others lens’, I have such envy! The downside is that they have to drag around all that heavy equipment! 😉 Happy new year to you!

  16. Lily Lau says:

    These photos are spectacular, Eliza! 😀

  17. Kathy Sturr says:

    LOVE these birds – the reason why I let those wild grapes go wild – even for just a short visit!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Yes, their visits are short. In the span of a few days, they removed every winterberry on these bushes and there were thousands of berries this year! No wonder they are nomadic, they eat a lot.

  18. Gorgeous photos! I always get so excited when the flocks breeze through for a few days. Such beautiful, gregarious birds.

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