Introduction by Nate Swick
Think back to the first time you saw a Cedar Waxwing. For many of us, this may have been a very long time ago indeed, as Cedar Waxwings can be found across the continent and in nearly every corner of the ABA Area. But try.Imagine hearing that thin lispy call for the first time. Watching a tight flock of small-bodied birds swoop into the top branches of a nearby try. Imagine putting binoculars on this bird for the first time. Seeing the dapper mask and the messy crest. The warm brown merging with yellow on the belly. The neat tail band. Maybe even the red waxy tips on the flight feathers.
eBird tells me that Cedar Waxwing was among the very first birds I encountered when I began birding. That doesn’t surprise me, even if I don’t remember that precise encounter. I’ve seen many thousands since. In flocks on countless Christmas Bird Counts or laying waste to the berries on any number of ornamental trees and shrubs. And every time I see one, or more likely many, of these birds, I think more or less the same thing. “What a great-looking bird!”I
In addition to having seen countless Cedar Waxwings, I’ve also had the good fortune to be with countless novice birders when they see them for the first time, and that reaction is almost always the same. The sharp intake of breath. The open-mouthed “WOW’. The same response as my own. “What a great-looking bird!”
In a recent episode of the American Birding Podcast, ABA President Jeffrey A. Gordon noted that the ABA’s first 50 years were about finding and identifying all the birds in the ABA Area. And that the ABA’s second 50 years should be about finding and identifying birders. In that way, perhaps Cedar Waxwing is the perfect Bird of our 51st Year. Famously gregarious, Cedar Waxwings are all about community. They share berries, they congregate at fruiting trees, they even occasionally over-imbibe. Birders, too, are frequently a social bunch. Gathering for monthly bird club meetings, at rare bird stakeouts, in online forums, and at birding festivals. Taking joy in our numbers. Making connections. Sharing information and experiences like so many berries on a fruiting holly tree.
Cedar waxwings were my gateway bird. It was the mid 1990s and I was up in a plum tree doing some pruning (I was an arborist at the time), and a large flock landed near me. We were almost nose to beak. I stayed as still as possible, trying to figure out what they were. A miniature jay of some sort? I eventually twitched or moved and so did they. But what a wonderful close encounter.
Wonderful choice for bird of the year and beautiful artwork too! If you asked me in the “off season” about a favorite bird, Cedar Waxwing probably wouldn’t jump in my mind first. But whenever one pops up, there is something inside that is fascinated and stares a while. They are strikingly beautiful birds. And I really enjoyed hearing Tony Fitzpatrick on the podcast! Thanks ABA! William
I call this beautiful bird “The Lone Ranger” One of my favorite bird to watch.
I was fortunate to get this photo of Cedar Waxwings having a “Dinner Party” on a tree in my backyard a few years ago. I posted the photo on Flickr. This is a link https://flic.kr/p/mcyW9e
That is an epic shot!
My internet name has been Cedarwaxwing or waxwing for close to two decades. I love this bird! So glad it was chosen for bird of the year.
just had an ‘ear full’ of cedar waxwings on my canal, ocean city maryland approx 3 miles fr Ocean, must’ve been a modest 30-40 and first sighting of year for me of my Fav bird!
I have never seen so many cedar waxwings as I have this spring–waves of flocks several times a day for several days now. Am I just noticing them more because I’m at home all day now, or is this an unusual year for them? I’m in Chicago.
Just saw my first ones tonight and it was awesome. A bunch landed in a tree and were eating berries.
I’ve been fortunate to have had a communion of waxwings fly in on me by a small tree overhanging a little dry creek bridge through a neighborhood in Wichita KS back in the 1980s and several times, through the years, thereafter. i had been a bird watcher, especially herons and other water birds for many years. The thing i admire the most about Waxwings are their feathers so fine they resemble soft skin, instead of feathers. Well, it is hard to explain how they look but the feathers are very very fine with no distinction from one feather to the… Read more »
Cedar Waxwings vex me! I just bought a home with four holly trees. Despite the fact these birds sometimes eat holly berries, they pretty much ignore mine. Each of the two years I’ve lived in my home, the Cedar Waxwings fly to another house in the neighborhood and congregate there every now and then. I hear them calling, but rarely do I see or hear them in my yard — even though one holly tree is right in front of my office window! Also, when I was child, my sticker book of “common” backyard birds included the Cedar Waxwing. It… Read more »
We can sit for hours spying these lovelies as they gather in our cedar/juniper trees leaving zero berries by November. It’s a wonderful sight!
I had hundreds of cedar waxwings this year. It was so exciting. They are one of my favorites. So beautiful. I’m sure they’ll be back. There were so many berries in the trees for them to eat! I don’t remember seeing them in this yard before in Larkfield wikiup.
Just noticed the decision about the 2020 bird fo the year! i must agree whole-heartedly with the comments. I like to tell new birders, when we lay our eyes on such birds – that they have just had their “feathers slicked up by Parisian hair-dressers”. They are just so handsome and their feathers seem so delicately groomed. Am writing from North Bay, Ontario, some 200 miles north of Toronto.
Unfortunately, I have had two waxwings fly into windows, with fatal results. I have a single cedar tree close to the house and many many holly trees. Not sure how to prevent this
the French name for this bird is Jaseur d’Amerique – it translates to chatterbox. Such a good name. Has anyone else seen them behave like swallows? So cool to see a flock zipping about over a river chasing aerial insects.