What is a Bohemian Waxwing?

by Victor
Bohemian Waxwing

Within the avian world, the Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) stands out as a striking and charismatic bird species. Known for its sleek plumage, distinctive crested head, and fondness for berries, the Bohemian Waxwing is a winter visitor that enchants bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. In this article, we delve into the key features, behavior, habitat preferences, and conservation status of this captivating species.

Physical Characteristics:

The Bohemian Waxwing is a medium-sized songbird with elegant plumage that showcases a unique blend of colors and patterns. Here are the key physical characteristics of the Bohemian Waxwing:

Plumage: The bird’s overall plumage is predominantly gray, with a warm brownish tone on the back and wings. The belly and undertail coverts are a pale yellowish color. One of the waxwing’s most striking features is its prominent black mask that extends from the bill to the eyes, contrasting beautifully with the pale yellow tips on its wing feathers.

Crested Head: The Bohemian Waxwing boasts a prominent crest on its head, which can be raised or lowered depending on its mood or level of excitement. The crest adds to its distinct appearance and gives the bird a regal demeanor.

Wing Tips and Tail Band: The waxwing’s wings exhibit a striking pattern with bright red wax-like tips on the secondary feathers, resembling drops of melted wax. Additionally, there is a yellow-tipped tail band, which becomes more visible during flight.

Behavior and Feeding Habits:

The Bohemian Waxwing is a social bird that typically forms large flocks, particularly during the winter months when they engage in communal feeding. Here are some notable behavioral traits:

Berry Feeding: The waxwing has a strong preference for berries and fruits, which constitute a significant portion of its diet. They are particularly fond of berries from trees such as mountain ash, juniper, and hawthorn. These flocks can create a spectacle as they descend upon berry-laden trees, devouring the fruit in a coordinated manner.

Synchronized Flight: When in flight, Bohemian Waxwings showcase remarkable coordination and synchronization. They fly in tight flocks, maintaining precise formations as they move from one feeding area to another. Their synchronized movements add to the beauty and allure of these birds.

Soft Vocalizations: The waxwing’s vocalizations are soft and melodic, consisting of high-pitched trills and whistles. These calls are used for communication within the flock and during courtship displays.

Habitat Preferences and Range:

The Bohemian Waxwing is primarily a resident of the northern boreal forests, particularly in regions of North America and Eurasia. Here are the key aspects of its habitat preferences and range:

Breeding Range: In North America, the Bohemian Waxwing breeds in Alaska and across Canada, reaching as far south as the northern United States. In Eurasia, its breeding range extends across northern Europe and Asia, including countries such as Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Mongolia.

Winter Range: During the winter, Bohemian Waxwings undertake migratory movements in search of food. In North America, they can be found in parts of the northern United States, particularly in the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Northwest, and the Great Lakes region.

Conservation Status:

The Bohemian Waxwing is not currently considered a species of conservation concern. However, habitat loss due to deforestation and the reduction of available food sources can impact their populations locally. Conservation efforts aimed at preserving mature forests and protecting critical winter feeding habitats are essential for maintaining stable populations of this magnificent species.


The Bohemian Waxwing is a captivating winter visitor that graces the northern forests of North America and Eurasia. With its sleek plumage, distinctive crested head, and communal feeding behavior, this bird offers a visual and auditory spectacle to those fortunate enough to encounter it. Understanding the key features, behavior, habitat preferences, and conservation status of the Bohemian Waxwing helps us appreciate its ecological significance and emphasizes the importance of preserving its habitats for generations to come.

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