Cedar waxwings

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We are currently enjoying our annual visit by cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum). They only appear as the berries begin to ripen on our neighbor’s downy serviceberry tree (Amelanchier arborea).

Two Cedar Waxwings in service berry tree

From a distance, they appear to be relatively plain, brown birds. But when seen up close, their distinctive markings are striking. I love their black masks, the lemon-yellow on the tip of their tail, and the bright red drop of ‘wax’ on their wings.

Cedar Waxwing

I’m delighted our neighbor planted this serviceberry. We enjoy its early spring blooms, and the berries seem to mean ‘full service’ to the birds. Other visitors include robins, house finches, cardinals, and blue jays, but the cedar waxwings are a special treat.

16 thoughts on “Cedar waxwings”

  1. What wonderful shots of these elegant birds (love the berry-in-beak!). I sometimes see cedar waxwings in our yard in May or early fall (a small flock of them once landed on some bush honeysuckles when the red berries were ripe–one of the few good things about that invasive plant!). Looks like I need to plant a serviceberry …

    1. Patsy, glad you, too, have enjoyed seeing these birds. The downy serviceberry is also available as a multi-stem shrub. I know it’s sometimes easier to find room for a shrub.

  2. Hello Betty, what delightful little birds, yes i agree whole heartedly with you…….
    …. their markings are striking! And l love the little tufty feathers on top of their heads.
    Thank you for these beautiful photographs, and the joy they bring to my heart.
    We don’t see Waxwings in Jersey, but i know they are winter visitors to the U.K.
    Perhaps the odd one may call in on Jersey sometime!

    1. Pauline, interesting to know some of the waxwings overwinter in the U.K. And I hope some day you will see one in Jersey.

  3. Wonderful Betty! I love how you caught the one with the berry in it’s mouth. I never see these birds. Lucky you!

    1. Deborah, I doubt we would be seeing the waxwings if we didn’t have the serviceberry next door. As to the berry-in-mouth image, wish I could take full credit, but as you can imagine, it was a lucky shot.

  4. I’m looking forward to our visit from these gorgeous birds. Last year I was lucky enough to be standing under our tree, eating the delicious berries, when about 50 cedar waxwings swooped in and feasted. I could have reached out and touched some of them. Hope I’m as lucky this year. Thanks for your great photos.

    1. Thanks, Ann, for your great story. Hope you get a repeat this year. I haven’t tried the berries, but thanks to you, I’m on my way.

  5. Hi Betty,

    I’ve sent you some pictures and a video asking if you could identify the birds that visited Paul and I as possible waxwings. My photography is pretty bad so I’m not sure if you can tell what they are but we both thought you might know. They stayed just a few minutes, made some beautiful song and left as a group. Whatever they were, we enjoyed their visit but it would be fun to know what they were if you can tell!

    1. Keli, thanks for sharing your photos and video. They are good enough that I can tell you definitely had waxwings. According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, we have cedar waxwings and Bohemian waxwings in the U.S.and both of them winter in Utah. From your photos, I’m guessing you had the Bohemian since they look a little larger than what we see. However, I can’t be sure. Another clue: the Cedar Waxwings’ sound is more subtle than the Bohemian. Delighted that you saw these birds and appreciate you sharing.

  6. Amazing photos as always! I also have a Serviceberry but yet have the pleasure of sighting Cedar Waxwings. I can dream. Did you know the Serviceberry is also a host plant for the Red a Spotted Purple butterfly? (first hand experience).
    Funny…..I have also not actually eaten a Serviceberry yet….they should be ready in a week or two ; ).

    1. Christine, no, I didn’t know Serviceberry was a host plant for the Red-spotted Purple. Thanks for that information. I tried a berry yesterday …. wasn’t impressed. However, I think it wasn’t ripe. Maybe I’ll try another one. Hope your dream comes true!

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