Photo by Katharine Schulz
Bohemian Waxwings are confiding songbirds that add colour to Manitoba winters.
How do I recognize it?
It is about the size of a starling, with a mostly warm brown plumage, burgundy undertail coverts, yellow terminal tail band and an obvious crest. The closely-related Cedar Waxwing is mainly a summer bird and is slightly smaller, with paler underparts.
Is it migratory?
In fall Bohemian Waxwings move south from their breeding grounds and spend the winter in southern Canada and northern United States. It also occurs in Eurasia. Numbers vary from year to year, depending on available food, but flocks may be in the thousands, especially towards spring. Once a food source, such as Mountain Ash berries, is exhausted, the flocks will move on.
Where does it live?
The species breeds in the northern parts of the Boreal Forest, up to the tree line. Nests are located in spruce trees and are difficult to find, as the species tends to be very unobtrusive during the breeding season. Its call notes are very high and the bird does not have a real song to advertise its presence.
Where can I see it?
Your best chances of seeing Bohemian Waxwings is in city suburbs, parks and small towns where Mountain Ash and crabapples provide food, from October to early April.
The species is widespread and not under any immediate threat.