The Outdoor Journal Rise of the White Fronts
While visiting with my folks last week near Weatherby, I noticed a flock of a dozen or so birds land on their high bush cranberry’s. The shrubs still had several red fruits on them and the birds were really working them over. Dad had a pair of 10 x 42 binoculars handy so I checked out the berry eaters. Sure enough they were Ceder Waxwings, taking advantage of the fruit that was still available.
Waxwings are one of the most striking of Missouri’s resident winter birds, being pale brown on the head and chest fading to soft gray on the wings. The belly is pale yellow, and the tail is gray with a bright yellow tip. The face has a narrow black mask neatly outlined in white. The red waxy tips to the wing feathers are not always easy to see, and not all birds have the red tips.
Cedar Waxwings are social birds that you’re likely to see in flocks year-round. They sit in fruiting trees swallowing berries whole, or pluck them in mid-air with a brief fluttering hover.
“The birds’ name derives from their appetite for cedar berries in winter; they also eat mistletoe, madrone, juniper, mountain ash, honeysuckle, crabapple, hawthorn, and Russian olive fruits. In summer Cedar Waxwings supplement their fruit diet with protein-rich insects including mayflies, dragonflies, and stoneflies, often caught on the wing.” ( Cornell )
According to Cornell University’s all about birds website, Cedar Waxwing’s are considered a species of Low Conservation Concern. Their populations were stable between 1966 and 2015, and in some areas showed increases.
If you want to attract Waxwings to your yard, plant fruit bearing shrubs or trees like, dogwood, serviceberry, cedar, juniper, hawthorn, or winterberry.