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Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus


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Bohemian Waxwing
credit: Randen Pederson/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Bombycillidae, Waxwings view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has mainly pinkish buff plumage, palest on belly. Has a crest, black throat, and black mask through eye. Rump is gray, undertail is chestnut, and dark tail has a broad yellow terminal band. Primaries have white and yellow margins; wings also show red, waxlike projections and white bar at base of primary coverts. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but has narrower yellow tip to tail, shorter waxy wing projections, and narrower dark throat. JUVENILE Gray-buff, streaked, and blotchy-looking overall; first-winter is similar to adult, but white margins to primaries are absent, as are red, waxlike projections.

Dimensions Length: 7 1/2 -8 1/2" (19-22 cm)

Habitat Summer breeding range lies mainly outside area covered by this book and present there mainly Apr-Sep; favors boreal coniferous forests. Present year-round further south and moves still further south and east in winter (into range covered by this book), with flocks roving after berry-laden bushes. Precise winter range is unpredictable, but in some years small flocks reach Atlantic coasts.

Observation Tips Easiest to see in winter, but finding a flock is a matter of luck. Wood-warblers can often daunt the novice birder, with many species exhibiting striking plumage differences between the sexes, and at different times of year. Becoming familiar with their songs and calls can be a great aid. In the field, concentrate on features such as the presence or absence of wingbars, and throat and rump color. Behavior and habitat preference are also important identification pointers.

Range Rocky Mountains, Texas, Eastern Canada, Plains, Alaska, Southeast, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, Western Canada, New England, California, Great Lakes

Voice Utters a trilling call and does not sing.

Discussion Plump-bodied bird with an obvious crest; confusion is possibly only with more widespread (in east) Cedar Waxwing. Winter flocks are often tame, giving superb views. In flight, silhouette is rather similar to a Starling. Sexes are separable with care.