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Cedar Waxwings - Sleek and Handsome

Look for daubs of wax on their silky wings!

When courting in spring, male and female Cedar Waxwings communicate with distinctly different calls and, perched side by side, often pass back and forth between them a berry or other small fruit or even a flower petal. Waxwings display a wealth of eye-catching plumage. If you relish the company of Cedar Waxwings, plant fruit-bearing trees and shrubs. Find native plants for your garden at

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Full Transcript

Cedar Waxwings - Sleek and Handsome

Written by Todd Peterson

This is BirdNote!
[Calls of Cedar Waxwings]
If you examine closely the colors, shades, and adornments of Cedar Waxwings, these sleek and handsome foragers may become your favorite bird. Cedar Waxwings display a wealth of eye-catching plumage, from a cinnamon-brown, back-swept crest to a black mask edged with white, and a bright yellow border on their tails. And those “wax wings?” Well, if you look carefully, you’ll see what appear to be drops of red wax on the tips of their secondary flight feathers.
[Calls of Cedar Waxwings]
Cedar Waxwings have a quiet voice.  If you can hear their song, it’s only a very soft trilling and even then it’s fairly hard for people to hear.  Because they are communal feeders, they don’t sing to establish individual feeding territories. Instead, they use their high-pitched trills and buzzy calls to keep track of each other in their small flocks.
 [Calls of Cedar Waxwings]
You can enjoy the company of Cedar Waxwings, when you plant fruit-bearing trees and shrubs such as mountain ash, crabapple, mulberry, and hawthorn. During winter, the birds wander widely in search of food, because their diet consists almost entirely of fruit. But summer or winter, invite these stylish visitors for a meal in your yard.
[Calls of Cedar Waxwings]
See a stunning photograph of a Cedar Waxwing and find out more about the native plants they prefer, on our website, I’m Mary McCann.

Buzzy trill of the Cedar Waxwing provided by Martyn Stewart of
High-pitched call of the Cedar Waxwing provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.A.Keller
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson 
Narrator: Mary McCann
090705CEWAKPLU                               CEDW-01b-2009-09-16-MM
© 2014 Tune In to       September 2017

Sights & Sounds

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