Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)

Bohemian Waxwing

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Bombycillidae | [latin] Bombycilla garrulus | [UK] Bohemian Waxwing | [FR] Jaseur boreal | [DE] Seidenschwanz | [ES] Ampelis Europeo | [NL] Pestvogel


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Bombycilla garrulus EU, NA n
Bombycilla garrulus garrulus
Bombycilla garrulus pallidiceps

Physical charateristics

Bohemian Waxwings are sleek, masked birds with unusual red, waxy deposits at the tips of their secondary feathers. They are grayish-brown with white and yellow wing-patches and yellow terminal tail-bands. They have distinctive crested heads, black throats, and black masks lightly lined with white. Their heads have a rufous tinge, and their undertail coverts are rufous. Juveniles have most of the aforementioned field marks, but are mottled gray-brown and lack the feather-tips. The feather-tips seem to increase in number and size as the birds age. The only bird in Washington that could be confused with a Bohemian Waxwing is a Cedar Waxwing, a far more common relative. Cedars are smaller and browner than Bohemians and have a yellow tinge underneath. They lack the rufous undertail coverts and white and yellow wing markings of Bohemian Waxwings

Listen to the sound of Bohemian Waxwing

[audio: Waxwing.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 32 cm wingspan max.: 45 cm
size min.: 16 cm size max.: 19 cm
incubation min.: 14 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 14 days fledging max.: 15 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 7  


Eurasia, North America : North


Bohemian Waxwings breed in open areas and edges of boreal forests, often in places with sparse tree cover above brushy understory. During winter, they can be found in a variety of habitats, as long as there is fruit available. They often congregate in towns with abundant plantings of fruit-bearing trees.


Bohemian Waxwings are monogamous, and both members of the pair help build the nest, which is usually on a horizontal branch of a spruce tree. The nest is a loose, open cup made of grass, twigs, and moss, lined with feathers and fine grass. The female incubates 4 to 6 eggs for about 14 to 15 days. Both parents feed the young, which leave the nest at 14 to 18 days. The young stay close to the nest and are fed by the parents for another few days. Family groups may stay together through the fall.

Feeding habits

Bohemian Waxwings eat some insects, but are primarily fruit-eaters, a trait that dictates much of their behavior. They eat almost nothing but fruit in the winter, relying on the berries of mountain ash, juniper, holly, and others. They also forage on fruit crops and ornamental plantings. Waxwings are susceptible to alcohol intoxication, and even death, from eating fermented fruit. Like most songbirds, they feed insects to their young at first, but switch to feeding the young berries within a few days.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Bombycilla garrulus is a widespread breeder in northern Fennoscandia and Russia,
with Europe accounting for less than a quarter of its global breeding range. Its
European breeding population is large (>130,000 pairs), and was stable between
1970-1990. Although overall trends are complicated by sizeable fluctuations, the
species increased significantly in Finland during 1990-2000, and was broadly stable
in Sweden, Norway and the stronghold Russia.
Bohemian Waxwing status Least Concern


Partial migrant, often making eruptive movements. In northern Europe regularly overwinters within southern part of breeding area and also makes annual limited movements to southern Sweden and Denmark with recent extension to north-central Europe. Breeding populations of northern Fenno-Scandia, and probably from further east, move both south-west to Britain and western Europe and also south to south-east to central and eastern Europe, and there are occasional records of more westerly movement to Iceland, the Faeroes, and eastern Greenland.

Distribution map

Bohemian Waxwing distribution range map

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