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Cedar Waxwings, Facts and Interesting Stories

Updated on May 14, 2014
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Baby Cedar Waxwings

My first encounter with Cedar Waxwings was at a bird rescue where I was volunteering in Delaware back in 2005. That particular day, I was assigned to baby birds. It was late spring, and one of the cages that I was working with housed waxwings and American Goldfinches. These babies weren’t newborn, but were old enough to be fed about once every half hour. The waxwings were not aggressive, but they didn’t have any trouble grabbing what they thought was theirs. Basically, I had to put a hand up as a shield to keep the waxwings from taking the food that I was feeding the young goldfinches. They would just open their mouths and expect the food to be put in their mouths. Waxwings and goldfinches get along well, which is why they were housed together, but I had to laugh to myself during these feedings.

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Entertainment with Wings

Another experience with waxwings was the winter of 2005-06. I was spending the Christmas holidays in Maine and was under the oldest apple tree on the property. It had some frozen, fermented apples still on the branches. A flock of waxwings showed up, maybe 30-40. They began eating the apples. Eventually, they were having difficulties keeping their balance while they were eating. Their flying was erratic, as well, and those on the ground appeared to be disoriented. I later found out that these birds had gotten intoxicated on those fermented apples. Who would have thought that birds would or could get themselves drunk? These birds are passerines, which means perching birds. They have four toes, which helps them grip their perches, or tree branches. Their given name also translates to “silky cedar.” This is one of the more regal looking birds that you will ever see, and they strike quite a pose. They are the avian world’s models, and they certainly leave an impression with you, once they have visited. They are known as overeaters, if given the opportunity, and I have seen them fall to the ground having eaten more than their fill.

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In Conclusion

They eat fruit, nuts, and insects, and tend to frequent the outskirts of forests and open woodlands. Most of their nest sites seem to be in maples or cedars. According to the latest bird count, their populations seem to be on the uprise, or at least holding steady. This is good news, I think. Here’s another fact for you: back in the early days of the 1900’s, the state of Vermont had passed a law that these birds could be shot on site, as they were decimating fruit crops. Thankfully, the Senate went against this when it was put to a National level, as their usefulness in eating insects won them over. So, here you have it. Some useful facts to tantalize your friends and neighbors, and I hope I have whet your appetite enough with my stories to get your cameras and binoculars at the ready.

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    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Linda! The babies were a riot to care for, and they certainly took a back seat to nobody. I miss doing rehab work.

    • Linda Compton profile image

      Linda Compton 4 years ago from The Land of Enchantment

      Deb, these are great shots. I love Cedar Waxwings, with their frito bandito face mask and that bit of yellow on the tip of their tail that looks like it was oh so carefully dipped in a yellow paint bucket! Loved hearing about your interactions, too. Voted WAY up! L.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Chris, I sure like that rendition of yours! Thanks for all the up and the sharing. I used to work with baby waxwings, who were housed with goldfinches. The finches would open their mouths, and expect the food to be put in there. The waxwings were more aggressive. If I didn't use a hand to shield them, they would have taken the food meant for the goldfinches.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      "But occifer, I don't drink. It was the apple I just ate." That was a great story. The whole hub was very interesting; a satisfying read. Up and shared.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, moonlake. I find it amusing back in ME, how they would eat the fermented apples and get intoxicated.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      They are such pretty birds. They like to fly in and eat our crab apples. One day our apple tree was just loaded with waxwings. Enjoyed your hub.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      That's the way to do it jenb. To make a long story short, at tri-State Bird rescue in Newark, DE, we had an imprinted kestrel. He loved women, but men with hats frightened him. He lived a good long life and was well attended to.

    • jenb0128 profile image

      Jennifer Bridges 5 years ago from Michigan

      Cedar waxwings are so cool. An imprinted one permanently resides at a local wildlife rescue (where I volunteer), and all the volunteers and staff love him. We spoil him rotten!

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, JKenny. I have yet to meet the Bohemian Waxwing, but that is one of my hopes to do so.

    • JKenny profile image

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      I love Waxwings, in Britain we have the Bohemian Waxwing, and that only comes to us in the winter, so it's a real treat to see. Great work. Voted up.

    • aviannovice profile image
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      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You're very welcome, Connie! There are lots of other things that I've done that you might enjoy, too!

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 5 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      I love this hub! The first and last time I saw Cedar Waxwings they were perched atop wild apple trees near the swamp beyond the cow pasture and the backyard at my Mom's house. I grabbed her binoculars, because even at a distance I could tell they were unusual-looking birds. It was a large flock, and I remember my 3-year old nephew was struggling to see them through his toy binoculars! I have looked for them ever since. I hope their populations are on the rise, they are such beautiful birds. I very much enjoyed reading about them, and reliving the memories your piece evoked. Thanks!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      They remind me of royalty the way the carry themselves when perched. Thanks for the comment!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Such beautiful birds! The smoothness of the way that they look is so lovely. I've seen them only a couple of time, up in tall evergreen trees. Every time I pass the trees where I saw them, I stop to look hoping to see the waxwings again.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      They appear to be a winter resident quite frequently and scarcer in summer months. They have been hanging around in the wooded area and the trees by the bridge across from the recycling center closest to the book bindery.

    • gamby79 profile image

      gamby79 5 years ago

      Wonderful birds!!! They are regal looking...fat as kings...lol honestly...always enjoy your stories. Just read this for the 1st time I guess. Thought I had already read it but was mistaken..had just seen the bottom pic. Am curious...Do these birds have populations in Oklahoma?