Bird of the Week | Bohemian Waxwing | 2020

Birdwatching Opportunities in washington

Bohemian waxwing

Bombycilla garrulus

Bohemian Waxwing - Birdwatching in Okanogan County Photo by Mary Kiesau

"Well, winter is transitioning to spring so I thought we should look at one of our transitional birds - the Bohemian Waxwing. Waxwings are in a unique family that only has three species in the world - two of which we get to enjoy in the Okanogan and one of which lives in East Asia. Our two species, Bohemian and Cedar, typically show up in different seasons with Bohemian being our winter waxwing and Cedar being our summer waxwing, but as we head into spring (and even early summer), it's good to know how to identify both birds because their timing in our region can overlap and they can even flock-up together. Both are big-time fruit lovers, so look for them in native and planted fruit trees! Both are very sleek and smooth looking, have a black eye mask, a cool fancy pointed crest of feathers on their head, and bright yellow tips at the end of their tails. However, the entire underside of the Bohemian's tail is rusty or rufous, and the main distinguishing feature is on their wings. Look for bits of bright white, a splash of red and a stripe of yellow. Cedar waxwings can have tiny red flecks on their wings but they often do not have any of these colorful wing features, and the underside of their tale is not rusty. Now is the time to look for the Bohemians before they head to Canada and Alaska for the summer. Then, keep your eyes peeled for the Cedar waxwings as they come up from Central America and the Southern United States."

Cedar Waxwing - Winter Birdwatching in Okanogan County Photo by Mary Kiesau

Fun Facts! 

Information from the Seattle Audubon Society
  • Bohemian Waxwings follow a more nomadic and irruptive lifestyle, wandering based upon food sources vs migrating based on temperature or latitude.
  • Waxwings are sensitive to alcohol intoxication from fermenting fruit, which can cause harm or death in some cases.
  • Bohemian Waxwings are monogamous and both help build the nest. Once the chicks are hatched, they are fed insects for the few couple days before switching to their berry diet.