The Cedar Waxwing: A stylish-looking bird my photos, my words

Cedar Waxwings are one of my favorite birds. They are very distinctive, with their shiny, silky feathers of brown, gray, yellow and black. They stand tall when perched, with their crest swept back stylishly above their black mask. Wing feathers have waxy red tips (that’s where waxwings get their name) and tail feathers are tipped with yellow.

It almost looks as if the birds are permanently dressed for a formal occasion.

I don’t have very many photos of waxwings in my files, but it’s not from lack of trying.

A Cedar Waxwing perches in a pine tree, Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville, Ohio.

First, even though waxwings are somewhat common in this area during the spring, I don’t see that many during my photo-hikes in local parks.

Second, waxwings tend to be very active. They don't perch in one spot for very long. That makes it difficult to get photos.

The Cedar Waxwing is one of the few North American birds with a diet that includes mainly fruit. Cedar Waxwings feed primarily on fruits year-round. The birds’ name comes from the cedar berries they eat in winter, but the birds also eat a variety of other berries. During summer months the Cedar Waxwing supplement their fruit diet with a variety of protein-rich insects.

A Cedar Waxwing is isolated against a bright sky in Prairie Oaks Metro Park, West Jefferson, Ohio.

As I said earlier, the Cedar Waxwing’s tail is tipped with yellow. That’s standard. But I have several photos of Cedar Waxwings with orange-tipped tails. It was very noticeable so I had to do some research to discover the reason.

A Cedar Waxwing stands tall on a branch in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

According to my favorite site for bird information, All About Birds: “Cedar Waxwings with orange instead of yellow tail tips began appearing in the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada in the 1960s. The orange color is the result of a red pigment picked up from the berries of an introduced species of honeysuckle. If a waxwing eats enough of the berries while it is growing a tail feather, the tip of the feather will be orange.”

Interesting fact.

Cedar Waxwing among branches, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing stands tall on a branch in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing perches in a pine tree, Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing is isolated against a bright sky in Prairie Oaks Metro Park, West Jefferson, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing stretches to look for food while hanging on a vertical branch in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Immature Cedar Waxwing perched among leaves, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing perches in a tree in Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing looks around in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing perches among leaves in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing stays alert in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing stretches for a better view in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing perches before a bright background in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing looks around in Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing rests on a branch in Inniswood Metro Gardens, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing perches on a limb in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing watches its surroundings in Prairie Oaks Metro Park, West Jefferson, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing perches against a green background in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing perches near berries in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing perches on a branch in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing looks back while perched in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing perches on a limb in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing rests on a branch in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing stretches to look for food while hanging on a vertical branch in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
A Cedar Waxwing looks to the rear in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
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Pat Hemlepp
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