Cedar Waxwing

Bombycilla cedrorum

Cedar Waxwing - Bombicilla cedorum Atlanta, GA - Peachtree Park - May, 2013

Cedar Waxwing – Bombicilla cedorum

If you live in the mountains of north Georgia, these birds are with you all year.  However, here in Atlanta we only see them in the winter and spring as they come through in flocks, whistling in the trees and eating any and all available remaining fruit and berries.   They are attracted to  bright red nandina berries, which can be fatal if consumed in quantity (see our post Nandina Warning).

Waxwings are attracted to the sound of running water, and love to bathe in and drink from shallow creeks. In urban or suburban environments, waxwings often favor parkland with well-spaced trees; golf courses, cemeteries, or other landscaping with well-spaced trees; bushes that provide berries; and a nearby water source such as a fountain or birdbath.  [1]

Cedar Waxwing - Bombicilla cedorum Atlanta, GA - Peachtree Park - May, 2013

Cedar Waxwing – Bombicilla cedorum

Cornell’s site describes them this way “Waxwings have a crest that often lies flat and droops over the back of the head.  Cedar Waxwings are pale brown on the head and chest fading to soft gray on the wings. The belly is pale yellow, and the tail is gray with a bright yellow tip. The face has a narrow black mask neatly outlined in white. The red waxy tips to the wing feathers are not always easy to see.” [3]

We simply say that they are one of the most striking and handsome birds we see all year.  We love it when they descend in the crabapple outside our window and eat whatever fruit remains on the tree.  They are also sometimes here late enough in the spring that they will eat our not yet ripe mulberries.

Cedar Waxwings

Group of Cedar Waxwings

These birds are nomadic, they are not territorial and they are late nesters. [5] Mating season for this bird begins around the end of spring and runs through late summer. The male will do a “hopping dance” for the female and if she is interested, she’ll hop back. [1]

You might hear them before you see them.  The two common calls of these birds include very high-pitched whistles and buzzy trills about a half second long often represented as see or sree. [1] Its call can also be described as “high, thin, whistles.” [4] They call often, especially in flight.

References and Additional Information

[1] Wikipedia: Cedar Waxwing
[2] The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition – David Allen Sibley
[3] Cornell – All About Birds: Cedar Waxwing
[4] Cornell – All About Birds: Cedar Waxwing – sound
[5] The Breeding Bird Atlas of Georgia – UGA Press: Schneider, Beaton, Keyes and Klaus, Eds.