Cedar Waxwings

Adult Cedar Waxwing

Adult Cedar Waxwing, Calif.

There are only three species of waxwings in the world, two of them are in North America (the third is in Japan).  In the United States we have the Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings.  Waxwings are named for the waxy red tips on certain wing feathers of the adult, as pictured here.


One day last month they came to a madrone tree in our front yard and partook of the orange berries.  We were going on a walk and they stayed long enough for a few photos.  They usually move in and out in a matter of minutes, but this mild, November day we got lucky.


Cedar-WaxwingThe cedar waxwing can be found all across the United States at different times of the year.  A gregarious bird, they are usually seen in flocks.  They live in open woodlands, orchards, fields, swamps and even suburban yards.  They forage mostly on berries and insects.  For more about the cedar waxwing, click here.

Cedar Waxwing juvenile

Cedar Waxwing juvenile


With a soft, almost imperceptible high-pitched trilling sound, they are often not noticed by many people.  In the farmer’s market where I go every week I occasionally see flocks of this elegant bird descend in the parking lot, and no one but me looks up.  Butternut squash in hand and a bagful of greens on my shoulder, I stop in my tracks and enjoy this private viewing with a big, broad smile.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander

58 thoughts on “Cedar Waxwings

  1. Thank you for sharing your private view enjoyment, Jet. Love these three captures, Ooooh the last one. I’m educated every time I visit you site. Thank you for that too. 🙂

  2. So glad to learn about another bird from you, Jet. So unusual are these wax droplets, I have never heard anything like that before. I will definitely look around more carefully when in the States. You guys have so many stunningly looking birds, like a whole palette of different, brightly colored woodpeckers, for example:and so many other amazing birds.
    Merry Christmas to you, and a wonderful, happy New Year!

  3. The Geezer’s wife loves birds and still talks about the following, years after it happened – on a trip to the Florida Estuary Park in Apalachicola she and the Geezer saw a cedar waxwing, an indigo bunting and a scarlet tanager all feeding in a group of mulberry trees. It’s unusual to see one much less all three together. Mrs. G looked through her viewfinder and snapped away without bothering to check her lenses cover.

    • Thanks for your spirited comment, Sandy. Your Geezer’s wife was indeed so lucky to see those three particular beauties at one time…though a bit unlucky with the lens cover. I guess they didn’t take you on vacation with them, or else you would have reminded her about the lens cover. lol. arf. 🙂

  4. Now don’t start talking to these lovely birds on your private view will you? Because if the people around only see you and not the birds they will only see you talking to yourself. As sure as eggs are eggs they are sure to notice that!! Beautiful post! 🙂

    • That day not only did they stay longer than the usual few minutes, but the berries were on a lower limb and they were so focused on the berries that they didn’t care about two humans. Thank you for your frequent comments and visits Lucy! 🙂

  5. Pingback: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Landscape/Seascapes | The World Is a Book...

  6. Wow ! Such a delightful Waxing post dear Jet ! A real treat our feathered friends into your yard ! Love the accompanying,amazing images that so effectively intensify your gorgeous descriptions;the yellowish feathers and the backdropped crest make them so very special ! Loved your post and this close-relationship you have with them,indeed social,not only because they fly in flocks,but also because they are so friendly to nice people like you 🙂
    By the way,I almost forgot to tell you how lovely those trees with the orange-red berries are ! So much info in a one post !!!

  7. Visiting North Carolina to stay with friends in Wake Forest for thanksgiving, I was amazed at the variety of birds that came to the bird table for breakfast. These waxwings look like quizzical creatures, perhaps they enjoy spying on you at the market place too! 😉 I’m so happy to have found your wonderful nature blog. Have a wonderful Christmas and I look forward to reading more in the new year.

  8. Great captures. Such an interesting bird. I rarely see them here in Indiana, though they do come around from time to time. A few years ago on a very cold day in the depth of winter, I noticed about 30 cedar waxwings in our rhododendron bush. They were utterly still and appeared to be literally frozen solid. I suppose they were engaged in some kind of survival mode sleep in response to the bitter cold. Unfortunately in my curiousity about whether they were actually frozen or not, I spooked them and the all went from perfectly still to all flying away as a group in the barest millisecond. Rather alarming. I felt bad that I had disturbed their survival rest and have always wondered what they did next and how well they survived the extreme cold of that day, what with clumsy ol’ me disturbing them so.
    Thanks for sharing your pictures and tale of this fascinating bird. 🙂

    • It’s always a little alarming to find an animal in a torpor state. We have jackrabbits who go into that eyes-open-asleep mode, and it’s taken me years to get accustomed to it. It is all part of their survival, and you did nothing wrong. As long as you didn’t destroy and eat them like a predator would have, it is all fine. It looks to me, from all the posts and photos I have enjoyed of your garden, like a most beautiful and loving place in the world. A treat to hear from you Jim. 😀

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