The cedar waxwing has gained many adaptations that help it survive through evolution. As the species evolves and changes as a whole, they have discovered new hardships and have adapted to those.
Travel in flocks (Klein): the species has a tendency to travel in flocks. This is because it's nomadic, which means that it travels a lot. Since the cedar waxwing constantly travels, it encounters many different organisms, so as a sense of protection, the bird travels in a flock. Overall, the cedar waxwing is a relatively friendly species, but just in case there are new threats, it likes to travel in flocks.
Beak: the cedar waxwing has a short and wide beak ("Cedar Waxwing"). This beak shape allows the bird to swallow berries whole and get food within their reach much easier than they would with a different type of beak (Klein).
Nest ("Cedar Waxwing" 2017): a cedar waxwing nest is usually made of grass, weeds, twigs, moss fibers, plants, hair, and rootlets. The nest is generally 6-20 feet off the ground. The male and the female do equal parts of the nest building, and it generally takes them about 5-6 days to finish building the nest.
In nature, there always will be a fight for survival. In a race to the finish line, only those who have the best adaptations can make it. Throughout the journey, species are pitted against other species to win the competition. The cedar waxwing competes for both food and shelter, and the species as a whole will not stop until they win.
- Phainopepla: both species compete for juniper and mistletoe ("Cedar Waxwing" 2017).
- Bohemian waxwing: the two species compete for juniper ("Cedar Waxwing" 2017).
- Bald eagle: both species live in North American forests and fight because of the massive populations of both species ("Bald Eagle").
- American robin: both species inhabit North American forests and are quite populous in the area, creating a constant fight for space ("American Robin").
- Common raven: both species reside in North American forests and are great in numbers, ensuring a fight for shelter and room ("Common Raven").
Habitat and Range
The cedar waxwing tends to construct its nest in a variety of environments. The more general habitats of the cedar waxwing are open woodlands, orchards, fruiting trees, forest edges, stream sides, overgrown fields, suburban yards, and wherever berries are mainly found ("Cedar Waxwing" 2017).
Year-round: the cedar waxwing mainly resides in the northern part of the United States ("Cedar Waxwing" 2017).
Summer: breeding cedar waxwings tend to migrate up to lower Canada ("Cedar Waxwing" 2017).
Winter: non-breeding cedar waxwings are known to migrate south to the southern part of the United States, all of Mexico, and the northwestern tip of South America ("Cedar Waxwing" 2017).
The cedar waxwing is a part of many different food chains, and when they are all linked together, they create a food web.
Producers - organisms that use sunlight to get energy and make their own food (Klein)
Primary consumers - organisms that eat the producers (Klein)
- Cedar waxwing
Secondary consumers - organisms that eat the primary consumers (Klein)
- Cooper's hawk
- Sharp-shinned hawk
- Common grackle
Tertiary consumers - organisms that eat the secondary consumers (Klein)
- Red-tailed hawk
- Northern harrier
- Northern goshawk
Decomposer - organisms that get energy by breaking down the nutrients of other dead organisms into materials like water and carbon dioxide (Klein)
- Common earthworm
As the image below represents, the chain starts with the cedar waxwing getting energy by eating juniper, holly, and dogwood. From there, it is clear that the Cooper’s hawk, the sharp-shinned hawk, and the common grackle all get their energy by eating the cedar waxwing. The chain then crosses over when it is seen that the Cooper’s hawk gets energy from eating the sharp-shinned hawk. Next, the red-tailed hawk and the Northern goshawk both get energy from devouring the Cooper’s hawk and the sharp-shinned hawk, and the chain seems to end when the Northern harrier gets energy by eating the common grackle. Of course, the chain truly never ends until the animal at the very top of it gets slaughtered or dies naturally, but for now, the Northern harrier shall remain at the peak of the pyramid. As a decomposer, the common earthworm assists in this process by breaking down the nutrients of a dead organism, thus creating more space for the living organisms and using the nutrients to make simple materials such as water and carbon dioxide.
Every species interacts with multiple other species during its lifetime. The cedar waxwing also does this. It comes across other species and is either harmed by or harms the other species, both species benefit from the interaction, or one species benefits while the other is harmed. These interactions shape a cedar waxwing's life.
Mutualism - when two organisms interact and both benefit (Klein)
- The cedar waxwing eats insects that aggravate humans. The cedar waxwing gets a meal and the humans are no longer disrupted by irritating pests.
Parasitism - when two organisms interact and one is benefited while the other is harmed (Klein)
- The Cooper's hawk eats the cedar waxwing. The Cooper's hawk gets a meal but the cedar waxwing is deceased and wounded.
- The sharp shinned hawk eats the cedar waxwing. The sharp-shinned hawk gets a meal and is benefited but the cedar waxwing has departed and is harmed.
- The common grackle eats the cedar waxwing. The common grackle gets a meal but the cedar waxwing ends up injured and lifeless.
Commensalism - when two organisms interact and one is helped while the other is neither harmed nor helped (Klein)
- The cedar waxwing lives in a fruit tree. The cedar waxwing gets protection and shelter from the tree, which is unaffected by the presence of the cedar waxwing.
Mating and Reproduction
Like most other species, the cedar waxwing has both male and female birds. Although they look they same, they have different behaviors. To attract the female cedar waxwing, the male cedar waxwing does a little hopping dance and passes fruit pieces, flower petals, or insects to the female (Klein). If the female is attracted, she will respond by doing a hopping dance and passing back the object given to her by the male (Klein).
Pairs mainly form during spring and breed together in the summer (Klein). If a pair is succesful with one brood, they will try for another that same summer (Klein). Cedar waxwings normally breed at the age of one year (Klein). During hatching, the fledglings are weak and are born without feathers (Klein). Fledglings usually leave the nest after 14 to 18 days (Klein).