Pleasant Hill, California
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Fun Facts About Waxwings

  • Cedar WaxwingCedar Waxwings are found in flocks throughout the US. They are winter migrants in the southern US from coast to coast while they are year-round residents in the northern part. Cedar Waxwings are more common throughout the US whereas the Bohemian Waxwings are occasionally found in the more northern realms in winter.
  • The highly social Cedar Waxwing is one of the last species of North American birds to nest each year, delaying its breeding until an abundance of insects and summer-ripened fruits are available to feed their young. They have been known to nest together in loose clusters and fledglings from neighboring nests may flock together within a few days of leaving the nest.
  • Waxwings are predominantly fruit eaters, especially from fall through spring. Sometimes people come across a seemingly sick and docile waxwing in the spring. They are actually drunk from eating fermented berries. Insects are added as a large part of their diet in summer. Waxwings can be seen flying out from an exposed perch to catch insects (or snowflakes) on the wing. They also like to feed on the emerging aquatic insects.
  • They are gregarious and it is unusual to find Cedar Waxwings on their own. Due to the nature of the fruit and insects being in patchy distribution it is easier to find this food in groups.
  • The waxwing name came from the tips of the bird’s secondary flight feathers looking like they were dipped in red wax. The cedar part of the name comes from their fondness for cedar berries.  Their streamlined shape makes them look sleek and fast, which bears out when they come suddenly and disappear just as suddenly on winter days.
  • Waxwings like to build nests high in the trees and often there will be a few nesting near each other. The female does most of the construction sometimes utilizing old nests for building materials or even renovating previously used nests. There will be one to two broods from June to August with usually three to five eggs. The nesting season may go longer if the fruit crop is very good and the weather is favorable.
  • In this area, you will find them most often on holly, cotoneaster, and other small red berry trees and bushes.  They often come in groups of 25 or more and strip a tree of berries in a few days during the winter. 
  • They usually will not come to bird feeders, since they prefer small fruits and berries,  but you can entice them into your yard with a nice birdbath, even in winter.