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.
The 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.
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