Cedar Waxwings are among the most striking songbirds, easily identified by the black mask on their faces and the bright red tips on their feathers. These red, waxy tips on their feathers and their appetite for cedar berries combine to give them their name. They are about the size of a robin and are usually brown and gray with a beautiful blend of lemon yellow on the tips of their tails and a lighter yellow on their breast.
Cedar Waxwings love to eat fruit. In fact, they can subsist on fruit alone more so than other birds. If you want to attract them to your yard, it’s a good idea to have lots of berries around. In summer, the best plants to attract them are serviceberries, strawberries, mulberries, dogwood, and raspberries. In winter, you can’t go wrong with cedar berries, mistletoe, madrone, juniper, mountain ash, honeysuckle, crabapple, hawthorn, and Russian olive fruits. The one downside of their fruit rich diet is that they’ve been known to feast on fruit that’s overripe and fermented. Although “drunk” birds can be humorous to watch, in some cases such fruit intoxication can be life threatening. Here’s a video showing intoxicated a bird.
In summer, Cedar Waxwings have a taste for protein rich insects like mayflies, dragonflies, and stoneflies. They most often catch bugs mid-flight or pick insects such as spruce budworms and leaf beetles right off vegetation.
Cedar Waxwings can be found as far north as Canada and as far south as the northern tip of South America. Many of them migrate to Canada in the summer where they breed, usually one or two broods during a season. They can be found in the southern United States and all the way down to South America in the winter. People in the northern half of the United States have the chance to see them all year round.
These birds are very social and are almost always seen in large flocks. They have a mating ritual that consists of the male offering a gift to his mate. The two will hop toward each other and then away and then back. You may even see them touch bills together during this little tango. The male also likes to pass a gift to his lady friend. It might be a small fruit, a bug, or a flower petal which she will take and then return. This goes on for a while before she eats the gift.
Cedar Waxwings are beautiful, striking birds with a lighthearted song and desire for social interaction. In fact, this video shows just how social these birds can be. Here a woman is holding the nest as a mother Cedar Waxwing feeds her young.
Our Facebook fan Bethany Satterfield Feehery nominated the Cedar Waxwing for Cole’s Bird of the Month. Thanks, Bethany. We hope you will join the conversation on Facebook. Click the link below.
Cole’s Wild Bird Products is a family-owned company that distributes wild bird feed and suet products. The company is known for offering the highest quality products on the market. Cole’s also specializes in chile infused seed products designed to make your feeder a bird’s only “hot” spot. Cole’s started in the garage of mom and pop entrepreneurs Richard and Nancy Cole back in the early 1980’s. Today it distributes to retailers nationwide. Cole’s is located in the metro Atlanta area. For more information, visit www.coleswildbird.com.