Cedar waxwings: A sleek and dapper looking bird!

Print Article

  • Photo by DON BARTLING Cedar Waxwings can exist solely on berries for months. (Photo taken by Myrtle Creek in a Hawthorn bush).

  • 1

    Photo by DON BARTLING Cedar Waxwings are a favorite of many birders with their fuzzy-looking crests and sharp color accents, they're dapper looking birds and seem to always share a song.

  • Photo by DON BARTLING Cedar Waxwings can exist solely on berries for months. (Photo taken by Myrtle Creek in a Hawthorn bush).

  • 1

    Photo by DON BARTLING Cedar Waxwings are a favorite of many birders with their fuzzy-looking crests and sharp color accents, they're dapper looking birds and seem to always share a song.

Cedar waxwings are one of my favorite birds. From a distance, they look like garden-variety little brown birds. But a closer look reveals the striking crown and beautiful red and yellow hues of their feathers. The yellow tip of their tail is especially brilliant.

“Sleek” is the word most often used to describe the silky fawn plumage of the cedar waxwing. A velvety-black bandit mask hides the eyes, and a bright yellow band tips the gray tail. Older birds have red tips on the secondary wing feather shafts, which look like shiny drops of sealing wax. Cedar waxwings are most often seen in flocks in fall and winter.

The name is derived from its red wax-like wing tips and preference for eating small blueberry-like cones of the cedar. They are mostly seen in flocks, moving from area to area, looking for berries. They are more visible in winter because naked branches reveal their presence. In summer, before berries are abundant, they feed on insects.

The cedar waxwing spends most of its time at the tops of tall trees. Waxwings vocalize almost constantly, uttering a high, thin sreee! It’s not much of a song for such a lovely bird, but it is often your first clue that waxwings are around. The cedar waxwing obtains his mask after the first year and the red wing tips after the second year.

The cedar waxwing’s only real habitat requirement is the presence of fruit-bearing trees and shrubs. They travel in tight flocks to locate and feed on small fruits and berries. They may be completely hidden in leaves as they flutter and pluck fruit, only to explode out with reedy calls and a rush of wings when startled. In late summer, they may be seen twisting and dodging pursuits of winged insects over water.

Cedar waxwings are monogamous. Both sexes help build a bulky, cup-shaped nest in the outer canopy of a tree. Leaves, straw, twigs, and string, often in a trailing mass, comprise the nest. The female lays four eggs and incubates them for 12 days, while the male feeds her. Young are fed on insects for the first two days, then solely on regurgitated fruits, leaving the nest around 15 days later.

Waxwings are sometimes found on the ground, appearing intoxicated and unable to fly after eating fermented (or too many) berries. They recover their senses after a short period of time.

Even our common backyard birds are full of surprises. Enjoy their antics and the beauty of Boundary County!

Print Article

Read More Outdoors

Country road names inspire us to travel them

January 23, 2020 at 6:00 am | Bonners Ferry Herald “Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong …” — John Denver Sometimes country roads are named for wildlife. This is nothing original and it’s hardly creative, but wild animals are an ess...

Comments

Read More

Moose calf hanging out at wildlife refuge

January 23, 2020 at 6:00 am | Bonners Ferry Herald BONNERS FERRY — One of the most exciting wild animal sightings to see when visiting the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is a moose. Many people drive and hike through the refuge and never see one...

Comments

Read More

Meadow voles are active year-round

January 16, 2020 at 6:00 am | Bonners Ferry Herald “How much I’d always envied the tight life of voles. The hidey hole was happiness.” — Author Sam Lipsyte Last week while driving in the vicinity of Deep Creek I saw a small, gray, mouse-like crea...

Comments

Read More

KVRI grizzly bear meeting

January 16, 2020 at 6:00 am | Bonners Ferry Herald Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative will hold a Grizzly Bear Sub-Committee Meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, in the Memorial Hall of the Boundary County Fairgrounds. The agenda will include Kim ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 267-5521
Po Box 539
Bonners Ferry, Id 83805

©2020 Bonners Ferry Herald Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X