Saturday, September 5, 2015

Cedar Waxwing

From tip-to-tail the Cedar Waxwing is a stunningly beautiful bird.

Sporting a black and tan colored topcoat with a lemony-yellow belly, the Cedar Waxwing looks to be dressed more in fine fur than feathers.

As a short, rather stocky bird with a square tipped tail, they give off an impression of being longer and leaner than factual.

The yellow tipped tail makes you wonder just how this evolved. Their wingtips display waxy red secretions giving the Cedar Waxwing half of its common name.

The slender black face mask adds a rakish mystery to the bird's image, too.

Males and females look alike.

Being social birds, if you see one Cedar Waxwing you will probably see more. They are a forest bird that spends a good portion of time near rivers and ponds.

Swooping and swirling over the water gleaning insects from the air, they rest only momentarily. They are an entertaining main attraction in the forest.

Insects add protein, but fruit is their primary food. Strawberries, raspberries, serviceberries, mulberries and dogwood berries make up the bulk of their diet.

In winter their food choices narrow. Cedar berries complete the Cedar Waxwing's story.

As noted on the Cornel Lab of Ornithology website:

Because they eat so much fruit, Cedar Waxwings occasionally become intoxicated or even die when they run across overripe berries that have started to ferment and produce alcohol.

This Cedar Waxwing showed no sign of tipsiness and was quite coordinated at catching insects along the Milwaukee River in Mequon, WI. 

The Cedar Waxwing is a year round resident in the contiguous United States, although many summer in  Canada for breeding and raising their young. 

You could supply a food source for Cedar Waxwings by planting fruit bearing shrubs, thereby adding both interest and wildlife to your property.

Cedar Waxwing populations are stable in the US and even rising...a fortunate outcome for a beautiful bird. 

Credit: The Cornel Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds