02.17/Cedar Waxwings

Featured for February: A stylish-looking bird

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.

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.

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.

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.

I add a new featured gallery the first of each month. The numbers in the gallery title represent the month and year it was featured. Last month’s featured gallery, with photos of public art, has been moved to my featured gallery archives.

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