If you are very patient, Cedar Waxwings will actually eat out of your hand.
I went to Golden Gardens and spotted many wild birds which were amazing but my all time favorite was the Cedar Waxwing. I went with a birding group where some birders pointed out that there were 2 Cedar Waxwings flying around a cherry tree and collecting berries. This was my first time ever seeing the Cedar Waxwing.
These Cardinal-like birds are light brown with a yellow belly and have yellow on the tip of their tail feathers. Cedar Waxwings are medium sized and are 6-7 inches tall. Cedar Waxwings are closely related and look a lot like Bohemian Waxwings except Bohemian Waxwings have more of a brown belly. You may see them traveling in flocks and you may not ever see one by itself.
Cedar Waxwings live all over America but they live in the Northern USA year round. In other parts of the US, the birds start fall migration in August. Cedar Waxwings like to stay in places with lots of berry bushes and fruit trees. They also like areas that have open spaces and some woodlands. If you take trips to desert washes, grasslands, old fields or marshes, you may find them flying with their flock or just hanging out. Waxwings that live in the tropical areas during winter, may tend to inhabit higher lands.
Cedar Waxwings are very social and fly over water very close to the surface happily. When mates first meet, the female and male hop towards each other and sometimes they will touch beaks together. Males will often give gifts like berries, flower petals or insects to the females. Once the females receive the gift, they will pass it back to each other a few times and then she eats it.
Nesting and Nestlings:
Looking for a place to build their nest may be a struggle, both genders look for places to build it but the female makes the final choice. Cedar Waxwings will nest in trees but if you were to ask me how high they nest, I would not be able to answer that, I can say that they don’t generally build their nests too high up and that the height may vary from 3-50 feet above the ground. They like to choose trees that are different types of cedar, oak, maple and pine.
When it comes to building nests, the responsibility is mostly on the females. The female weaves the twigs and adds leaves, flower petals, horsehair and other nature resources. She will line the inside with grass and pine needles but decorates the outside with fruiting grasses. It may take them 2.5 thousand trips to get all the materials that they need and the process will take them a little less than a week. To save time and energy they may steal supplies from other birds’ nests. They make their nests about 5 inches across and 3 inches tall.
During the mating season that starts in late spring and ends in late summer, the female lays 5 or 6 white-blue oval eggs and then incubates them. Nestlings are incubated for a third of the amount of days that Owls incubate for. Owls incubate for about 30 days but Cedar Waxwings incubate for about 11. After hatching, both of the parents feed their young for 24-28 days, once they get to be 14-18 days old, they leave the nest but stay close to their parents and are fed for about 10 more days. After that, they may join a flock of other juvenile Cedar Waxwings.
January through December, Cedar Waxwings eat berries, fruit and insects. They will catch insects by flying right above the surface of the water. You may see them sitting on cheery trees or berry bushes. When eating their berries, they will put the berry in their beak then gulp it down. Sometimes the end of a twig will hold a bundle of berries that only one bird can reach at a time, the members of a flock will line up single file along the twig and pass berries beak to beak down the line that way each bird gets a chance to eat. Cedar Waxwings love to eat food from trees, just as they love to eat sap. Some berries may make Cedar Waxwings very drunk and in some cases may even kill them.
Here are some tips for attracting them to your garden: They love the water and if you have any kind of small fountain, they find them gorgeous. If you have a lot of berry/fruit trees, their is a higher chance of them coming to your backyard but it doesn’t tend to happen a lot. If you don’t have any source of fruit growing on trees, they probably will not come to your backyard. If you are very patient, Cedar Waxwings will actually eat out of your hand.
A special thanks to Jason Quinn for the photo of the Cedar Waxwing.