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Cedar Waxwing

The Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) is a grayish-brown bird with a black eye mask and small black throat bib. It is a somewhat sleek slender bird topped off with a pointed head crest that sweeps backwards, somewhat like a cardinal's or blue jay's. Both male and female birds have this crest. The underside or ventral is light tan to cream that ends in an almost white coloration beneath the tail feathers. Cedar Waxwings also have small reddish and white bands mixed in their wing and tail feathers. The terminal tips of their tail feathers are a bright yellow.

The Cedar Waxwing's preferred habitat in Nebraska is open edges of woodland locations that have some fruit bearing plants. On the acreage small orchards and berry laden shrubs are an optimal home. In urbanized locations residential fruit trees mixed with conifer and junipers offer an excellent alterative habitat.

Cedar Waxwings are true frugivores, specializing on fruits and berries. The photo at the right is by Ingrid Taylar, at Encyclopedia of Life. During the winter months these birds eat small hard seeds -like fruit of juniper and Cedar trees. The Cedar Waxwing prefers fruits so intensely that there is data that indicates some birds actually die from the alcohol content from fermented fruits eaten. So if you think you see and drunken Cedar Waxwing frolicking in your yard you just may be correct. They digest their food so quickly that they are one of the few birds that passes the seeds of the fruit or berry in its dropping, instead of regurgitating it.

Cedar Waxwings are noted to be non-territorial and form flocks. Some of these flocks can contain up to fifty birds. They are social birds that engage in grooming habit between individuals. During mating the pair will dance around and pass berries back and forth.

In Nebraska they usually mate fairly late in the spring; and build nest of twigs and grass in cedars or other conifer trees.

Cedar Waxwing
Image of Dennis Ferraro
Dennis Ferraro
Wildlife Biologist & Herpetologist Extension Specialist
Dennis Ferraro is the resident herpetologist and wildlife biologist at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln School of Natural Resources. He has been a UNL faculty member since 1990.