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The Kennedy Wild Bird Food Guide to the Waxwing

If you’re looking for information about the waxwing bird, then you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find everything here, from locations for waxwing bird sightings to the sound of the waxwing call. Take a look!

What does the waxwing look like?

One of the very first things you’ll notice about a waxwing is its distinctive, brightly coloured tail. Even its wings are exotic-looking, with eye-catching white and yellow lines flanked by a single brown stripe at the top of the wing. The tail is its main feature, flaunting a vivid, bold yellow tip. It’s also a very plump bird, with a short beak and generally bulky body.

What do waxwings eat?

The waxwing has quite a limited diet, consisting mostly of berries (particularly rowan and hawthorn berries). They like sugary fruit, which is where the cedar waxwing bird gets its name (for its love of easter ‘redcedar’ juniper berries). Here’s a little fact – waxwings love berries so much that they can often eat overripe (fermented) berries and, as a result, become intoxicated.

Come breeding season, however, the waxwing will resort to eating insects for greater sustenance, and they can be spotted flying over water to catch them. 

If you find a waxwing or two in your area, they’ll be happy to feast on some mealworms.

What does the waxwing song sound like?

There are usually two common sounds you’ll hear from a waxwing. The first is a high-pitched, trill bzeee sound. The second is a lower sighing whistle, around half a second long and rising in pitch at the beginning. Click the link below to hear the waxwing call for yourself.

Click here to listen

What can we learn about the waxwing habitat?

Waxwings do not breed in the UK but, instead, visit throughout the winter months. They’re usually seen on the east coast from Scotland down to East Anglia – that said, they’ll generally move inland when food gets scarcer. 

Waxwing facts you didn’t know

  • There’s a reason waxwings are so bulky – these birds typically eat 800-1000 berries a day, amounting to almost twice their bodyweight!
  • According to spiritualists, the waxwing is a symbol of selfless generosity. They’re also associated with politeness.
  • There are two species of waxwing that have visited the UK. The common ‘bohemian waxwing’ and the rarer ‘cedar waxwing’. It’s not so easy to differentiate between the two, but this is a good place to start: Bohemians have a grey chest and belly, while cedars have a brown chest and yellow belly. 
  • The global population of waxwings comes in at around three million, and the breeding range covers around 13 million km. 
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature has stated that the wawing is ‘of least concern’. They’re thriving!

Have you seen a waxwing?

You may well have spotted a waxwing in your area, foraging for berries most likely! If you have, remember to log it in our BirdSpotter map so that other bird watchers know where they need to go. In the meantime, be sure to follow us on our Instagram for more bird-related news!


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