THE CEDAR WAXWING
The beautiful Cedar Waxwing is identified by its pronounced delicate robe of contrasting colors and silky texture. Cedar Waxwings are intensive foragers and have been reported to devour an entire fruit crop of red cedars over a two day period. Such feats have earned them their name and led to the belief that these birds are an important disperser of red cedar. After the mating season ends (late Summer), Cedar Waxwings will travel in flocks of 40 or more birds. They are gregarious, sociable creatures who eat lots of berries and insects.
Identified as a trim crested bird at 6 1/2 to 8″ long. The adult is grayish-brown and crested with a black mask and chin, yellow belly, white undertail coverts and a yellow band across the tip of its tail. The red appendages or vibrant “sealing wax” at the end of its secondary wings give this bird its name.
Range and Habitat
Summer range is Canada and the Central U.S., generally Wintering in the Southern half of the U.S. They are a year round resident of the Pacific Northwest, Central and Northeast U.S.
The Cedar Waxwing prefers forest edges or open woodlands as a general habitat. They also enjoy orchards, gardens and parks with shade trees and live in areas where maples, alders and dogwoods grow. They prefer to nest in maple or cedar trees. In abundance where berry producing trees and shrubs are found and watercourses such as rivers and streams flow.
The Cedar Waxwing is a voracious eater. The Cedar Waxwing’s primary diet consists of berries, flower petals and insects. During the Summer they dine on elm leaf beetles, weevils, carpenter ants, sawfly larvae, flies, cicadas, scale insects, and caterpillars. Ripe berries provide food in the Fall and Winter. Cedar Waxwings have been known to sit in a row on a berry bush and pass a berry or insect between one another!
You can attract these beautiful birds to your backyard by:
- Creating a forest edge or open woodland with trees. Plant trees they like such as alders, maples and dogwoods, or their favorite nesting trees: cedar and maple.
- Offer chopped or sliced apples, raisins or currants on a platform feeder. They are difficult to entice to a feeder, but once they notice it they will consume large quantities!
- Try offering an apple on a special fruit feeder!
- Make sure you have a bird bath or water source. Like most fruit eating birds, they get quite thirsty.
- Plant berry producing trees and shrubs such as juniper, European mountain ash, pyracantha, cotoneaster, dogwood, mistletoe, apple, hawthorn, California peppertree, grapes, strawberries, mulberry, cherry, privet, yew, toyon, hackberry and choke cherry.
- In the spring, during nesting season, they will readily use wool, string, hair or other nesting materials set out by humans. Offer these nesting materials in the bark of a tree or a suet cage.