Bohemian Waxwing

Bombycilla garrulus
Range Map

The Bohemian Waxwing breeds in open boreal forests and wanders widely seeking crops of winter fruits, thus earning its Bohemian name. Summer breeding occurs from Southern British Columbia north to the Arctic zone. These birds winter in southern Canada, the northern tier of the eastern USA, and south to the northern USA in the west.

There are three species of waxwings in the world: Bohemian Waxwing, Cedar Waxwing, and Japanese Waxwing. Of these, the Bohemian Waxwing is the only member found around the entire northern hemisphere.

Today, taxonomists recognise three subspecies of Bohemian Waxwing:

  • B. g. pallidiceps breeds in Alaska and northwestern Canada to Hudson Bay. They spend winters east to southeastern Canada and south to the central USA, and irregularly farther south in the western USA states..
  • B. g. centralasiae breeds in central and eastern Russia south of the tree-line from the Ural Mountains east to Kamchatka, south to Lake Baikal and the lower Amur Valley. They spend winters south into Kazakhstan, northern China and Japan, sometimes wandering to northern India, south China and Taiwan.
  • B. g. garrulus breeds in northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia, and east to the Ural Mountains. They spend winters south to Poland, the Balkans, Ukraine, wandering sometimes farther west and south.

Until recently, my experience with this species was limited to a single individual I met in 2005, when I was traveling to Alaska through the Yukon in Canada near the town of Whitehorse. While exploring a nearby location called McIntyre Marsh, I was gazing across the shallow water when I spotted a bird in the distance I knew was a waxwing. I only realized its identity after studying the image I captured. I hoped one day to meet them again, and in 2022, I returned to Whitehorse and, as I explored nearby Lake Labarge, I met these birds once more.

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