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Cedar Waxwings: Voracious Fruit Lovers

Cedar Waxwings are among the most frugivorous (fruit-eating) birds in North America.  During the winter their diet is almost completely fruit.  Historically cedar berries (hence their name) were the fruit of choice, and still is where cedars are plentiful, but ornamental fruit trees such as Mountain Ash, crabapples, and hawthorns as well as alien honeysuckles have become a major source of food for Cedar Waxwings in recent years in the Northeast. 

Research shows that in May an abrupt change in waxwing diet composition occurs, with fruit dropping to about 15% of their diet, while flowers comprise 44%. In June, frugivory spikes back up to about 65% as current-season fruits ripen, and fruit use progressively rises for the remainder of the summer until it nears 100% for several winter months. (Photo: Cedar Waxwing eating Common Winterberry fruit)

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