Today’s science Sunday post is the Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum). These birds have been migrating through the neighborhood on their way back up to the northern part of the United States and Canada.
They are social birds that are usually always seen in flocks. Personally when I was taking the picture, I thought it might have been a nuthatch since it was a single bird in the shade. Imagine my surprise when I downloaded the pictures, and realized that it was a cedar waxwing instead.
Their coloring is usually a pale brown head and chest, which fades to a gray color on the wings (there is also a red tips on the wings—but can be hard to notice when they’re perched in large groups). The tail has a bright yellow tip to top off the dark gray color, and the belly is a pale yellow. They also have a black eye patch, and a tuft that may or may not be laying flat against their head.
Their diets consist of mainly berries and insects (they’ve been going after the one large holly “tree” in our front yard over the past two weeks or so). During the summer they feed more on insects, and the young are fed insects more than berries in the beginning. Unlike other smaller birds, cedar waxwings don’t actually start nesting until late summer, and they nest in “colonies” (so that their territory to defend is relatively small). They usually have about two broods (usually 3-5 nestlings) a year, and the young usually leave the nest within two to two and half weeks after hatching.
Hopefully this week I can maybe manage to get a “group” photo of some of the cedar waxwings before they totally leave the state and continue their trek to the north.