Cedar Waxwing

If you’ve ever seen a group of waxwings take over a berry-filled tree, then you know just how special these backyard birds are. Learn how to attract cedar waxwings to your yard, and listen to their song.

Keys to identification

Typical Voice

[audio:http://backyardnaturalist.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/534A.mp3|titles=Cedar Waxwing]

  • Size & Shape

    The Cedar Waxwing is a medium-sized, sleek bird with a large head, short neck, and short, wide bill. Waxwings have a crest that often lies flat and droops over the back of the head. The wings are broad and pointed, like a starling’s. The tail is fairly short and square-tipped.

  • Color Pattern

    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.

  • Behavior

    Cedar Waxwings are social birds that you’re likely to see in flocks year-round. They sit in fruiting trees swallowing berries whole, or pluck them in mid-air with a brief fluttering hover. They also course over water for insects, flying like tubby, slightly clumsy swallows.

  • Habitat

    Look for Cedar Waxwings in woodlands of all kinds, and at farms, orchards, and suburban gardens where there are fruiting trees or shrubs.