Cedar Waxwings, a New Year, a New Yardbird

by Larry on January 1, 2013

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) are seen here in Northern California every winter, but this year, they were seen in my yard for the first time! Click on photos for full sized images.

Cedar Waxwings

The mainstay of the Cedar Waxwing is fleshy fruits and during the winter their diet is almost completely fruit. This dependance on a fruit diet accounts for much of this bird’s migratory and wandering behavior. Range Map courtesy of NatureServe Explorer.

Cedar Waxwing Range Map

These birds visited my yard for the fruits of my Photinia bushes…

Cedar Waxwing

which placed them in a rather dark environment for photography.

Cedar Waxwing

However, after filling up on berries they would fly over to the oak trees to roost and preen in what sunshine there was to be had.

Cedar Waxwing

As the sun rose a bit higher in the sky and broke through the clouds, the Cedar Waxwings showed more color.

Cedar Waxwing

Waxwings get their name from the red, waxlike tips on the secondary flight-feathers of adult birds like the one seen in this photo.

Cedar Waxwing

Immature birds like this one, don’t attain the red tips until their second fall.

Cedar Waxwing

These red appendages on secondaries of Cedar Waxwings increase in number and size with the bird’s age. This bird with only a few short red tips foraging in the photinia is probably a young adult and, when the time comes, is most likely to breed with another bird of the same age1.

Cedar Waxwing

Pairs of older birds nest earlier and raise more young than do immature birds, suggesting that this plumage character is an important signal in mate choice and social organization1.

As I watched and photographed this flock of about fifteen Cedar Waxwings they would also hawk insects from the treetops…

Cedar Waxwing Hawking Insects

and occasionally visit the waterfall and pond to drink.

Cedar Waxwing

After counting about 1,200 American Robins flying over as I photographed these waxwings in my back yard, I stopped by Turtle Bay the following day to see what birds were out and about.

Adjacent to Turtle Bay is the Redding Convention Center which has some red berry bush plantings nearby (if anyone knows what type of bush this is please leave a comment).

I snapped a few shots of these Cedar Waxwings there. This one waiting its turn in a maple tree…

Cedar Waxwing

another venturing out on the end of a branch…

Cedar Waxwing

and this one sneaking around in the shadows.

Cedar Waxwing

They were understandably being coy as an American Robin (Turdus migratorius) arrived at the berry bushes and began chasing the Waxwings off.

American Robin With Berries

You know, Robins like berries too! But that’s another story.

To see more great birds from around the world, check out The Bird D’pot and Wild Bird Wednesday!

References: 1Birds of North America Online

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