“What’s That?” Wednesday: Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Cedar waxwings are one of the most easily recognizable birds, due to their sharp coloring and unique features. An interesting animal that is social, attractive, and can boast some unusual features, the cedar waxwing is a great find for families out on a casual bird walk pretty much any time of the year. They are especially easy to spot during the days of winter and spring when trees might not yet be fully leafed out.

Read on to find out a bit more about cedar waxwings as well as to download printable sheets of useful photos and information about them. Each Wednesday, check the bottom of the “What’s That?” post to find a PDF containing a fact sheet about the day’s featured item, as well as photographs and other resources ideal for using in a nature journal, research binder, or lap book.

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Some Interesting Things to Know About Cedar Waxwings

– Cedar waxwings are native to North and Central America

– A large portion of their diet is fruit but they also eat cones and insects.

– Waxwings are named for a waxy substance that they secrete and that collects on the tips of their secondary wing feathers. The purpose of this “wax” isn’t yet known.

– Female waxwings do most of the nest construction, which is a labor intensive process for this particular species. When a nesting pair builds a second nest during the breeding season, the male may go ahead and pitch in on the construction process.

– Cedar waxwings are social birds, and often nest in groups of nesting pairs making their homes in adjacent trees.

– Cedar waxwings hatch one to two broods of eggs each year. These broods range in size from 2 to 6 eggs approximately a half to a quarter inch in size.

– Cedar waxwing eggs are a pale blue or bluish gray color and may sometimes have black spots or markings on them.

– The Bohemian waxwing is also spotted in North America but it is larger, grayer, and has orange feathers on the underside of the tail.

– Some “cool facts” about cedar waxwings and recordings of their calls can be found on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

Click here to download the waxwing nature journal resource pages to use with your own family.

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  • Kim May 7, 2014, 8:00 am

    I love the cedar waxwing :)

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