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Bohemian Waxwings Headed Northwest To Breeding Grounds

3-15-19 bohemian waxwing dropping crab apple_U1A5117Northern New England and, to a lesser extent, southern New England, are visited by Bohemian Waxwings most winters. This nomadic bird often occurs in large single-species flocks, but sometimes mixes with Cedar Waxwings and/or American Robins. These flocks, varying in size from a few individuals to several hundred, and even a few thousand, range widely during migration and winter. Their dietary preference in the winter for sugary fruits makes crab apple and mountain ash trees (and the ground underneath them) as well as highbush cranberry bushes likely locations to spot them.

Most Bohemian Waxwings begin their migration to their breeding grounds in Alaska and the boreal forests of western Canada in March. Like its close relative, the Cedar Waxwing, it breeds late compared to most birds. Eggs are not laid until mid-June, presumedly in order to time the fledging of their young with the ripening fruits of summer.

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14 responses

  1. Linda

    What an astonishing picture. Thank you.

    March 15, 2019 at 8:36 am

  2. GREAT shot, Mary! I haven’t spotted ANY Waxwings, either variety, around here, alas. Not even any finches this winter!!! Weird…

    March 15, 2019 at 8:44 am

  3. April

    Was this bird dropping the berry or did someone throw the berry at it? (Or something else?) Beautiful photo!

    March 15, 2019 at 9:22 am

    • It dropped it, unintentionally, I believe. They often do intentionally drop fruit, presumably because it is too rotten or for some reason inedible, but in this case, the waxwing didn’t mean to drop the crabapple as it was trying to retrieve it in this photo!

      March 15, 2019 at 9:55 am

      • April

        I imagined you threw it to the bird and the next second after the photo the berry was in its mouth. I like my version!

        March 15, 2019 at 6:48 pm

  4. Katherine Fiveash

    Where do the eastern Bohemian waxwings breed? I can’t imagine they head for western Canada or Alaska!

    March 15, 2019 at 10:08 am

    • You’re exactly right, Kathie! Alaska and adjacent Canadian territory. What a long migration!

      March 15, 2019 at 4:34 pm

  5. Bill on the hill

    The one that got away!
    Excellent capture too… :~)

    March 15, 2019 at 11:26 am

  6. I used to see a lot of Cedar Waxwings and Robins feeding on a very large Common Hackberry tree (actually very uncommon) on the property of the Historic Homes of Runnemede. It can be seen from the back right side of the Rite Aid/People’s Bank parking lot, a large tree growing above a cottage. I did occasionally see a few Bohemian Waxwings too.

    March 15, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    • Excuse me for not mentioning the town: Windsor. The Common Hackberry, so valuable to birds, is very rare in Vermont and Northern New England, but it favors the land in Windsor.

      March 15, 2019 at 1:18 pm

  7. jennifer bowen

    WOW! thank you so much for this. Perfect timing. I had just walked by a crab apple tree in Lebanon, NH filled with these birds, and i could not figure out what kind of bird, although one looked like a robin, but none of the rest did, they were unfamiliar to me. Then i saw your picture and knew the tree was filled with Bohemian Waxwings. They allowed me to get quite close to them to check them out, and i wondered if they were intoxicated on the fruit.

    March 16, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    • So glad to be of help. Where in Lebanon, Jennifer?

      March 16, 2019 at 5:31 pm

      • Jennifer bowen

        On Prospect St. Near Reservoir road or maybe it’s called Porter Rd.
        Mary do you have any talks or classes?

        March 17, 2019 at 9:58 am

  8. Hi Jennifer,
    I haven’t scheduled any talks or classes – am due for shoulder surgery and will be out of commission for several months, I’m afraid. I’m using my camera while I still can! Thanks for the info. on waxwing location!

    March 17, 2019 at 4:36 pm

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