Skip to content

The Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing, Adult

Arguably, one of the most beautiful birds in our province is the waxwing. Now in saying this, I realize I am treading on thin ice. Picking a most beautiful bird is kin to picking one’s favorite child. Just to add to the confusion, waxwings come in two versions, the Cedar and the Bohemian. Both are beautiful in their own right.

Cedar Waxwing with Apple Blossom

Cedar Waxwing, Juvenile 

Come apple blossom time in the spring, one of the first birds to appear is the Cedar Waxwing. These are silky, sleek brown birds with a crest, a black mask, a yellow tail band and bright red, waxy droplets on their wings for which they are named. They can appear in small groups to large numbers. They descend on the apple trees as well as other fruit blossom to eat the petals.  Later in the season, they will eat all types of berries. (Keep an eye on your blueberries and service berries.)  Having short, pointy wings they often can be confused with starlings when in flight. 

In fall, the Cedar Waxwings migrate and make way for their northern cousins, the Bohemian Waxwing. These birds are slightly larger, grayer overall and show white and yellow edgings on the wings and rusty-orange under the tail (undertail coverts). I usually come across them eating frozen apples or mountain ash berries. Again, they can sometimes appear in large numbers. Last winter, I came across a flock in the Argyle shore area that I estimated to be at least one thousand birds. You may be seeing them soon.

Bohemian Waxwing, Adult

Bohemian Waxwing Flock

Bohemian Waxwing, part of large flock seen in Argyle Shore

Now, just to decide which is more beautiful? And then, of course, there are the Long-tailed Duck, the Wood Duck, the Harlequin Duck……Hmmmm???       

Text and Photos by REArvidson

Ron Arvidson is an Artist and Teacher as well as an avid Birder.  Ron is also an Administrator for Birding on PEI and his photos may also be seen

Previous article The Owl Butterfly


sterling schnatz - March 6, 2021

Is it possible to see Bohemian Waxwings on PEI right now March 2, 2021? I just saw a pair of incredible birds which I first thought were Morning Doves. However these birds had a crest like a cardinal. When one landed 2 feet from me, I could see the dot of red near the wing and yellow and the light color head crest. The rest of the bird was grayish. They didn’t go near my bird feeder. I couldn’t get a picture because my window was frozen shut. Ugh! Thank you.

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields