Migration: Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Wax Wing | BirdsandBlooms.com

photo courtesy of Roland Jordahl via BirdsandBlooms.com

For one day each October, we delight in watching a flock of Cedar Waxwings stop in our yard to devour the berries on our dogwood shrubs. Although they are in the upper Midwest all summer, I only see them in my area (MN) during spring and fall migration.

They are among the latest nesting birds in North America. Because their diets consist of mostly fruit, late nesting allows them to take advantage of all the late summer and early fall fruit and berries. They are susceptible to intoxication or death from eating fermented berries.

The past 2 years have brought the juvenile Cedar Waxwings to our yard. They can be easy to miss; they don’t have the same air-brushed look of the adults. The juveniles have grayish, heavily streaked chests and don’t get their red wing tips until the second year. Their distinct mask, the beginnings of the crest on their heads and their high-pitched squeaks (sounds like ‘zeeee, zeeet or sreee’) drew my attention and made me look twice.

My point-and-shoot is on the fritz, so I apologize for the low-quality images I was able to capture with my smartphone.
cedar waxwing | paula bonelli | birdsandbloomsblog.com

    cedar waxwing | paula bonelli | birdsandbloomsblog.comcedar waxwing | paula bonelli | birdsandbloomsblog.comAll Photos Copyright Paula Bonelli

Do you see these painted beauties? What fruit or berries do they enjoy in your yard?

Final countdown to the much-anticipated birding movie, The Big Year. It opens in 9 days on Friday, October 14.


  1. Sharon Miller says

    When i was a young girl growin up in southern ohio we had a flock of cedar waxwings strip our mulberry tree. It was the only time i remember seeing a cedar waxwing and aspecial event.

    • Paula (Midwest) says

      They are really beautiful, aren’t they? I’ve always seem them in flocks making them even more impressive. Thanks for your comment and for reading our blog, Sharon!

  2. Sherry says

    We had cedar waxwings build a nest in our tree by our deck, so could watch them daily,,,, building their nest, then raise their babies, until they flew off. Fun to watch

  3. Christine says

    We just witnessed quite a few of these lovely birds in a huge patch of blackberries, here in SW Washington. So wonderful to see them.

  4. Ken Flatt says

    Currently have a flock of cedar waxwings a (50+ birds) stripping the holly berries from our back yard tree in Kill Devil HIlls, NC on the Outer Banks. I assume these birds have been displaced by winter storm Saturn. The northerly winds have been blowing 25-35 MPH since last Wednesday. The flock is also traveling with redwing black birds and robins. They have been here for two days now. March 8,2013

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