A truly unique sight to any bird enthusiast, the sleek and beautiful plumage of the cedar waxwing is tough to beat. This North American resident can be a real treat, especially moving into the fall season where you can see flocks of hundreds of these birds feasting on crops of fresh berries.
The Cedar Waxwing is a medium-sized bird, measuring between 6.5” and 8” ( a little smaller than a robin). The feature a fairly large head and a blunt, wide bill. Their wonderfully colored wings are broad and pointed and have a crest that covers the back of their head. The Cedar Waxwings tail is relatively short and squared off toward the bottom.
Getting its name from their silky and shiny collection of feathers, the Cedar Waxwing’s coloring ranges from brown and grey all the way to their yellow colored tail feathers. Their heads feature the pale brown colored feathers, followed by a very soft grey coloring found on their wings. Their face sports a narrow black mask, which if you get a close enough look, is outlined in a thin line of white. The belly of this bird is a pale yellow, and their tail is mostly grey in color, except for the accented yellow tip.
As stated earlier, you will more often than not find these colorful birds in numbers. The Cedar Waxwing spends most of the year in flocks, often spurring erratic movements. Berries are the food of choice for these birds, and you can be treated to hundreds of them if a good crop is available, but they can and will most likely vanish when that crop has been exhausted. You can also find these birds flying low over bodies of water and can be treated to quite the aeronautical show while they pursue flying insects.
Fortunately, these birds are a resident to a good portion of the northern US and southern Canada, often spending their winters in British Columbia, the Great Lakes region and New England. During the summer months, this bird is much more widespread across a great portion of Canada.
The females ultimately call the shots here. Although this social bird will typically look for nesting sites in pairs, the decision comes down to the preference of the female. Females will construct the initial nest with next to no help from their male counterparts but will enlist the males help for the season's second nest.