Cedar Waxwing

Bombycilla cedrorum
Range Map

The Cedar Waxwing is one of only three waxwing species (family Bombycillidae) worldwide. Their winter range lies within the southern half of the USA, and south through Mexico and Central America. They are resident in the northern half of the USA and southern Canada. In summer, the heartiest among them migrate north to latitudes in central Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts. These birds breed in open wooded areas.

I’ve enjoyed the company of these sleek and elegant birds not only in California, Arizona, and Oregon, but as far north as British Columbia and southern Alaska, and as far south as south Texas.

My favorite encounter with Cedar Waxwings came one afternoon in my yard. I enjoy participating in annual Christmas Bird Counts, a citizen science event where folks join together to discover what birds are staying in your neighborhood. We found Cedar Waxwings at a park only two miles from my home, and the following day I took my camera with me to look for them. I struck out finding them at the park, but when I returned home, I found a flock of about 50 Cedar Waxwings and as many American Robins decimating the pyracantha berries in my yard. I watched as the robins and waxwings alternated devouring berries and retreating to the nearby oaks to rest, while the other species took their turn. When they were done, there wasn’t a berry on a stem or on the ground. It was glorious!

Today, science does not recognise any subspecies of Cedar Waxwings (i.e. they are monotypic).

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