Cedar Waxwings

Out for a walk with the dogs today, I saw robin-sized grey birds with subtle yellow bellies flitting from branch to branch in a crabapple tree, eating the shriveled fruit. As I looked closer at them, I saw that they had crests!

From Birds of Pennsylvania, Dzung Tran

Birds of Pennsylvania

Cedar waxwings!

I’ve only ever seen these strikingly beautiful birds once before, for just a moment. I’m grateful for a second look. In a way, it’s strange that I haven’t seen them more often, because according to Birds of North America, cedar waxwings live in Colorado foothills and up all year round.

Even better news is that, with the planting of fruit and ornamental trees, and the reduction of pesticides, cedar waxwings are on the increase. Yippee!

I used to carry my camera with me every time I took the dogs for a walk. I got a lot of great photos that way, and I would have gotten some nice ones today. But somehow, I got out of the habit. I therefore had to download these magnificent photos from the internet.

From Adventures in Mothland, David Beadle

Adventures in Mothland

Maybe I’ll start hauling my camera along again…

Published by Amy Law

Amy Law is a science geek. She feels about science the way some people feel about music, or art, or sports – a total and complete emotional connection. She thinks in science. For Amy, there’s nothing better than helping people see the beauty of science as she does. She loves to untangle a complicated subject into its parts, explaining it so that anybody can understand what’s happening. Let her show you her world...

11 thoughts on “Cedar Waxwings

  1. Wow, they really are striking. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any around my hood. I just read the Denver Post article about the Snowy Owls hanging out a Stanley Lake. That’s yet another reason to consider carrying a camera around…just in case. 🦉


  2. Today is the first time in 25 years to see waxwings at my feeder. I just saw 4-5 Waxwings drinking water from a backyard dish in Fort Collins – beautiful sight!


  3. While counting for Feeder Watch, I saw many Robins flying all over my yard. There were so many, I could not count them all. My estimate is probably 40 plus. They were just flitting around & flying into one of my pine trees. It seemed they were chasing each other. Then, looking closer at the pine, I saw some different birds. They were Cedar Waxwings. They were displacing each other in the tree. I could only count a few but once again, estimate there were 10 or more. Since it is December it surprised me to see so many Robins & Waxwings traveling with them. Is this normal or did I see something unusual? This is the only the second time I have seen Waxwings in Colorado & I watch for birds a lot.


    1. Barbara —
      How cool that you got to see some cedar waxwings at your feeder! Yay Feeder Watch!
      My answer is a little passive-aggressive. Like you, I have only seen these birds the one time I blogged about it, and I too watch birds a lot. On the other hand, when I was going to school in Fort Collins lo these many years ago, the ornithology professor would go out every spring break to collect cedar waxwings that had eaten too many fermented berries and flown into windows of the dormitories (that would be an FUI, “flying under the influence”), killing themselves. So they have been reasonably common for a long time.
      That matches with what Birds of North America says. In Colorado, there does seem to be a year-round population. What’s more, with ornamental fruit tree and shrub plantings, cedar waxwings are increasing, so hopefully we’ll see more in the future.
      I wonder if we are perhaps seeing them more often than we realize, but just not recognizing them. I mean, robins are nice birds, but I don’t usually double check my identification of them unless something unusual is happening.
      So that’s my theory. I’ve been trying to be more aware of robin-ish birds in the hope of seeing more unusual birds like cedar waxwings. I’m sure you’ll read about it in my blog if I succeed!
      Happy Birding!


  4. I have a mulberry tree just outside my front window. I didn’t know what species they were; I called them bandit cardinals. I looked them up and found cedar waxwing. Amazing little birds. I live in SE Colorado, Pueblo to be exact. I have been in my home for almost 5 yrs. Every spring when the mulberry fruits, I have the privilege to see a slew of finches, sparrows and robins.


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