Cedar Waxwing

Photo of Cedar Waxwing by Darlene Betat

Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) are found in Oregon all year, but their nomadic behavior makes it hard to predict where you will find them at any given time. They may arrive in your yard one day (usually in a flock), spend a day or two, and then disappear for months.

Cedar Waxwings are easy to recognize, with their shaggy crest and bold black mask edged in white. They are tawny brown, darkening to gray on the wings and tail. The belly and undertail coverts are pale yellow. The tail has a yellow (sometimes orange) band on the end. Waxwings get their name from the red waxy tips on some of their wing feathers.  Their high trilling calls are usually the first indication that a flock of waxwings are around.

For most of the year, these birds feed primarily on fruit. In spring and summer, insects become a significant part of their diet. Waxwings will hunt from an exposed perch, flying out to capture insects in flight.

Nesting occurs from late spring through the summer. Late nesting allows time for summer fruits to ripen in time to feed the young. The nest is a bulky cup made of grasses and twigs, and lined with finer materials. Sometimes waxwings will use material from old nests, or just reuse the nests of other species. The clutch usually consists of four eggs. Cedar Waxwings produce two broods each year.

Cedar Waxwings won’t come to a bird feeder, but they frequently come to bird baths. The best way to attract these birds to your yard is to plant fruit-bearing trees and shrubs. Mountain ash, dogwood, cherries, hawthorns, crabapples, and cotoneaster are some favorite waxwing food sources.

Photo of Cedar Waxwing by Darlene Betat