Comprehensive Guide to selected species of:
Birds of the Boreal Forest « back to Guide
Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus
Family: Waxwings, Bombycillidae
Audio: Martyn Stewart, © Naturesound.org
An estimated 77% of the North American population of Bohemian Waxing breeds in Canada's boreal forest. Because most of its breeding range is in remote and uninhabited regions, most birders only see the species in winter when flocks move south and east across southern Canada and the northern U.S. Within this wintering region Bohemian Waxwings are adept at locating fruiting trees and shrubs which provide their winter food supply. Since such plantings are typically around buildings in cities and towns, large flocks of the species are now often found in urban areas of northern towns. Waxwings seem to be particularly susceptible to pesticides and it is unclear how the widespread application of pesticides to industrial boreal forests will impact Bohemian Waxwing populations.
Description 7 1/2 -8 1/2" (19-22 cm). A sleek, gray-brown, crested bird. Similar to Cedar Waxwing but larger, grayer, and with conspicuous white wing patches and rusty (not white) undertail coverts.
Habitat Open coniferous forests.
Nesting 4-6 pale blue eggs, heavily spotted and scrawled with black, placed in a loose, flat saucer of twigs, lichens, and grass in a conifer.
Voice High-pitched, lisping seeee, harsher and more grating than call of Cedar Waxwing.
Range Breeds from Alaska, Yukon, Mackenzie, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba south to central Washington, northern Idaho, and northwestern Montana. Wanders irregularly farther south and east during winter. Also in Eurasia.
Discussion This species forms large winter flocks in the northern United States only about once a decade. Its occasional erratic movements southward in winter are thought to be caused by food shortages in the North. When it appears, it feeds on berries. One hundred or more of these birds perched in the top of a leafless tree in midwinter, calling shrilly, is an unforgettable event. Highly social, Bohemian Waxwings usually move about in tight formations, descending en masse on a clump of bushes and quickly stripping them of fruit.