The waxwings are passerine birds classified in the genus Bombycilla. They are brown and pale grey with silky plumage, a black and white eyestripe, a crest, a square-cut tail and pointed wings. Some of the wing feathers have red tips, the resemblance of which to sealing wax gives these birds their common name. According to most authorities, this is the only genus placed in the family Bombycillidae, although Phainoptila is sometimes included. There are three species, the Bohemian waxwing (B. garrulus), the Japanese waxwing (B. japonica) and the cedar waxwing (B. cedrorum).

Waxwings are not long-distance migrants, but move nomadically outside the breeding season. Waxwings mostly feed on fruit, but at times of year when fruits are unavailable they feed on sap, buds, flowers and insects. They catch insects by gleaning through foliage or in mid-air. They often nest near water, the female building a loose nest at the fork of a branch, well away from the trunk of the tree. She also incubates the eggs, the male bringing her food to the nest, and both sexes help rear the young. Waxwings appear in art and have been mentioned in literature.

Bohemian Wax Wing
Bohemian waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Bombycillidae
Swainson, 1831
Genus: Bombycilla
Vieillot, 1808


Waxwings are characterised by soft silky plumage. (Bombycilla, the genus name, is Vieillot's attempt at Latin for "silktail", translating the German name Seidenschwänze.)[1] They have unique red tips to some of the wing feathers where the shafts extend beyond the barbs; in the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its common name.[2] The legs are short and strong, and the wings are pointed. The male and female have the same plumage. All three species have mainly brown plumage, a black line through the eye and black under the chin, a square-ended tail with a red or yellow tip, and a pointed crest. The bill, eyes, and feet are dark. The adults moult between August and November, but may suspend their moult and continue after migration.[3] Calls are high-pitched, buzzing or trilling monosyllables.[4][5]


These are arboreal birds that breed in northern forests (Witmer and Avery 2003). Their main food is fruit, which they eat from early summer (strawberries, mulberries, and serviceberries) through late summer and fall (raspberries, blackberries, cherries, and honeysuckle berries) into late fall and winter (juniper berries, grapes, crabapples, mountain-ash fruits, rose hips, cotoneaster fruits, dogwood berries, and mistletoe berries) (MacKinnon and Phillipps 2000, Witmer and Avery 2003). They pluck fruit from a perch or occasionally while hovering. In spring they replace fruit with sap, buds, and flowers. In the warmer part of the year they catch many insects by gleaning or in midair, and often nest near water where flying insects are abundant.[6]


Cedar waxwing Courtship
Cedar waxwing pair passing a berry back and forth during courtship

Waxwings also choose nest sites in places with rich supplies of fruit and breed late in the year to take advantage of summer ripening. However, they may start courting as early as the winter. Pairing includes a ritual in which mates pass a fruit or small inedible object back and forth several times until one eats it (if it is a fruit). After this they may copulate. So that many birds can nest in places with good food supplies, a pair does not defend a territory—perhaps the reason waxwings have no true song—but a bird may attack intruders, perhaps to guard its mate. Both birds gather nest materials, but the female does most of the construction, usually on a horizontal limb or in a crotch well away from the tree trunk, at any height. She makes a loose, bulky nest of twigs, grass, and lichen, which she lines with fine grass, moss, and pine needles and may camouflage with dangling pieces of grass, flowers, lichen, and moss. The female incubates, fed by the male on the nest, but once the eggs hatch, both birds feed the young (Witmer and Avery 2003).


They are not true long-distance migrants, but wander erratically outside the breeding season and move south from their summer range in winter. In poor berry years huge numbers can erupt well beyond their normal range, often in flocks that on occasion number in the thousands (Witmer and Avery 2003).


Some authorities (including the Sibley-Monroe checklist) place some other genera in the family Bombycillidae along with the waxwings. Birds that are sometimes classified in this way include the silky-flycatchers, the hypocolius, and the palm chat. Recent molecular analyses have corroborated their affinity and identified them as a clade, identifying the yellow-flanked whistler as another member.[7]


Bohemian Waxwing-male, Ottawa

Bohemian waxwing, male (B. garrulus)

CedarWaxWing Rockwall TX US

Cedar waxwing (B. cedrorum)

Bombycilla japonica

Japanese waxwing (B. japonica)


Lucas Cranach the Elder - Two Dead Bohemian Waxwings - Google Art Project
Two Dead Bohemian Waxwings by Lucas Cranach the elder, ca. 1530

Waxwings are mentioned in the first lines of the poem "Pale Fire" by "John Shade", a fictional poet created by Vladimir Nabokov for his novel Pale Fire.

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain

By the false azure in the windowpane

The waxwing identified in the Commentary to Pale Fire is a fictitious species. The novel's narrator claims that John Shade's father had a waxwing named for him, Bombycilla Shadei, and in noting the name corrects the taxonomical error: '(this should be shadei, of course)'.

The line "I was the shadow of the waxwing slain" was also used in the song "The Obituaries" by the band The Menzingers.

Waxwings are also mentioned in the song "Autumn" by Joanna Newsom.

When out of the massing that bodes and bides

In the cold West
Flew a waxwing who froze and died against my breast
And all the while rain like a weed in the tide swans and lists
Down on the gossiping lawn, saying, "tsk, tsk, tsk"


  1. ^ Vieillot analyzed motacilla, Latin for "wagtail", as mota for "move" and cilla, which he thought meant "tail". (Motacilla actually combines motacis, a mover, with the diminutive suffix -illa.) He then combined this cilla with Latin bombyx, silk (Holloway 2003).
  2. ^ Holloway, Joel Ellis (2003). Dictionary of Birds of the United States: Scientific and Common Names. Timber Press. p. 39. ISBN 0-88192-600-0. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
  3. ^ RSPB Handbook of British Birds (2014). ISBN 978-1-4729-0647-2.
  4. ^ MacKinnon, John; Phillipps, Karen (2000). A Field Guide to the Birds of China. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 286–287. ISBN 0-19-854940-7.
  5. ^ Sibley, David Allen (2000). The Sibley Guide to Birds. Alfred Knopf. p. 423. ISBN 0-679-45122-6.
  6. ^ Witmer, Mark; Avery, Mark (2003). "Waxwings and Silky Flycatchers". In Perrins, Christopher (ed.). The Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Firefly Books. pp. 518–519. ISBN 1-55297-777-3.
  7. ^ Spellman, G.A.; Cibois, A; Moyle, RG; Winker, K; Keith Barker, F; et al. (2008). "Clarifying the systematics of an enigmatic avian lineage: What is a bombycillid?". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 49 (3): 691–1044. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2008.09.006. PMC 2627281. PMID 18824237.

External links

B. japonica

B. japonica may refer to:

Balanophora japonica, a plant species

Barnardia japonica, a bulbous flowering plant species

Blera japonica, a hoverfly species in the genus Blera

Bombycilla japonica, the Japanese Waxwing, a fairly small passerine bird species found in north-east Asia

Buddleja japonica, a plant species found in Honshu and Shikoku, Japan

Buergeria japonica, the Ryukyu Kajika Frog or Ryukyu Kajikagaeru, a frog species found in Japan and Taiwan

Bijan Elahi

Bijan Elahi shirazi (Persian: بیژن الهی شیرازی‎; pronounced [biː'ʒæn elɑːhiː]; 7 July 1945 – 1 December 2010) was an Iranian modernist poet and translator. He was for most of his life known as a leading figure of a modernist poetry movement in Iran called The Other Poetry (Persian: شعر دیگر‎).

Elahi's poems were posthumously published in two volumes: Vision (2014) and Youths (2015). Youths brings together what the poet’s calls his “young poems” (Javaniha, 233), many of which had been published in serial form prior to the 1979 revolution. Vision is a collection of four poem cycles that indicate the fullness of Elahi’s contribution to Persian literature.Rebecca Ruth Gould and Kayvan Tahmasebian have argued that "A considerable strand of Persian poetry today is directly and indirectly inspired by Elahi's inventions and inspirations."Elahi's poems have appeared in English in Poetry Wales, Waxwing, The McNeese Review, and Tin House. An edition of his poetry will be published in 2019 under the title High Tide of the Eyes: Poems by Bijan Elahi, translated by Rebecca Ruth Gould and Kayvan Tahmasebian (New York: The Operating System, Glossarium: Unsilenced Texts & Modern Translations series).

Bohemian waxwing

The Bohemian waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) is a starling-sized passerine bird that breeds in the northern forests of Eurasia and North America. It has mainly buff-grey plumage, black face markings and a pointed crest. Its wings are patterned with white and bright yellow, and some feather tips have the red waxy appearance that give this species its English name. The three subspecies show only minor differences in appearance. Females are similar to males, although young birds are less well-marked and have few or no waxy wingtips. Although the Bohemian waxwing's range overlaps those of the cedar and Japanese waxwings, it is easily distinguished from them by size and plumage differences.

The breeding habitat is coniferous forests, usually near water. The pair build a lined cup-shaped nest in a tree or bush, often close to the trunk. The clutch of 3–7 eggs is incubated by the female alone for 13–14 days to hatching. The chicks are altricial and naked, and are fed by both parents, initially mostly with insects, but thereafter mainly fruit. They fledge about 14–16 days after leaving the egg. Many birds desert their nesting range in winter and migrate farther south. In some years, large numbers of Bohemian waxwings irrupt well beyond their normal winter range in search of the fruit that makes up most of their diet.

Waxwings can be very tame in winter, entering towns and gardens in search of food, rowan berries being a particular favourite. They can metabolise alcohol produced in fermenting fruit, but can still become intoxicated, sometimes fatally. Other hazards include predation by birds of prey, infestation by parasites and collisions with cars or windows. The Bohemian waxwing's high numbers and very large breeding area mean that it is classified as being of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Cedar waxwing

The cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) is a member of the family Bombycillidae or waxwing family of passerine birds. It is a medium-sized, mostly brown, gray, and yellow bird named for its wax-like wing tips. It is a native of North and Central America, breeding in open wooded areas in southern Canada and wintering in the southern half of the United States, Central America, and the far northwest of South America. Its diet includes cedar cones, fruit, and insects. The cedar waxwing is not endangered.

The genus name Bombycilla comes from the Ancient Greek bombux, "silk" and the Modern Latin cilla, "tail"; this is a direct translation of the German Seidenschwanz, "silk-tail", and refers to the silky-soft plumage of these birds. The specific cedrorum is Latin for "of the cedars".

Cody Votolato

Cody Votolato (born May 20, 1982) is a musician from Redmond, Washington, best known for being the guitarist in the post-hardcore band The Blood Brothers. He grew up in the eastside suburbs of Seattle. Cody attended Redmond High School with his bandmates in the late 1990s when the band originally formed, graduating Spring of 2000. His accomplished thrashy and discordant style, exhibited in early Blood Brothers albums and in Head Wound City, has evolved into a more melodic and experimental sound in recent years [1]. Votolato's older brother Rocky Votolato is a folk musician and solo artist who played in the band Waxwing with his brother, as well as with Rudy Gajadhar, the older brother of The Blood Brothers' drummer Mark Gajadhar. Votolato also contributed artwork to The Blood Brothers' album ...Burn, Piano Island, Burn. On September 4, 2012, it was announced that Cody has joined Cold Cave as touring guitarist.

Fauna of Toronto

The fauna of Toronto include a variety of different species that have adapted to the urban environment, its parks, its ravine system, and the creeks and rivers that run throughout Toronto. Many other animals from outside the city limits have been known to straddle inside on from time to time.

Japanese waxwing

The Japanese waxwing (Bombycilla japonica) is a fairly small passerine bird of the waxwing family found in north-east Asia. It feeds mainly on fruit and berries but also eats insects during the summer. The nest is a cup of twigs lined with grass and moss which is built in a tree.

List of bird species introduced to the Hawaiian Islands

This list of bird species introduced to the Hawaiian Islands includes only those species known to have established self-sustaining breeding populations as a direct or indirect result of human intervention. A complete list of all non-native species ever imported to the islands, including those that never became established, would be much longer. In the following list, ^ indicates a species indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands but introduced to an area or areas outside its known native range, * indicates a formerly established population that is now extirpated, and parenthetical notes describe the specific islands where each species is known to be established.

Cedar Waxwing (Maui)

Northern hardwood forest

The northern hardwood forest is a general type of North American forest ecosystem found over much of southeastern and south central Canada, Ontario and Quebec, extending south into the United States in northern New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, and west along the Great Lakes to Minnesota and western Ontario. Some ecologists consider it a transitional forest because it contains species common to both the oak-hickory forest community to the south and the Boreal forest community to the north. The trees and shrub species of the Northern Hardwood Forest are known for their brilliant fall colors, making the regions that contain this forest type popular fall foliage tourist destinations.

Sugar maple, yellow birch, American beech, and White Ash are the common key indicator tree and shrub species in the Northern Hardwood Forest. Other species include eastern hemlock and eastern white pine. Herb and heath species include wintergreen, wild sarsaparilla, and wood sorrel. Birds and animals common to the Northern Hardwood Forest include the black-capped chickadee, white-throated sparrow, cedar waxwing, porcupine, snowshoe hare, white-tailed deer, and American Red Squirrel.

Most of the Northern Hardwood Forest is not virgin forest, it is regrowth following centuries of commercial timber harvesting and the clearing of land for agricultural purposes. This is particularly true of New England, New York, and Eastern Canada, where the land was cleared to make room for farms in the 17th and 18th centuries and subsequently abandoned in the 19th century when farming interests migrated to the midwestern United States and central Canada.

The Northern Hardwood Forest is indigenous to several well-known parks and national forests, including the Boundary Waters region of Minnesota, New York's Adirondack Park, the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, Baxter State Park and Acadia National Park in Maine, and Fundy National Park in New Brunswick. The Berkshires region of western Massachusetts is very typical of a Northern Hardwood Forest ecosystem. Northern hardwood stands are also found in the higher elevations of the southern Blue Ridge Mountains, typically between 4,500 feet (1,400 m) and 5,500 feet (1,700 m), where climatic conditions resemble those in northern states and southern Canada.

Pale Fire

Pale Fire is a 1962 novel by Vladimir Nabokov. The novel is presented as a 999-line poem titled "Pale Fire", written by the fictional poet John Shade, with a foreword, lengthy commentary and index written by Shade's neighbor and academic colleague, Charles Kinbote. Together these elements form a narrative in which both fictional authors are central characters.

Pale Fire has spawned a wide variety of interpretations and a large body of written criticism, which Finnish literary scholar Pekka Tammi estimated in 1995 as more than 80 studies. The Nabokov authority Brian Boyd has called it "Nabokov's most perfect novel", and the critic Harold Bloom called it "the surest demonstration of his own genius ... that remarkable tour de force". It was ranked 53rd on the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels and 1st on the American literary critic Larry McCaffery's 20th Century's Greatest Hits: 100 English-Language Books of Fiction.

Raymond Duncan (ornithologist)

Raymond Duncan is a Scottish ornithologist. He is the chairman of Grampian Ringing Group, established in 1977. He lives in Aberdeen.

Duncan has carried out a number of studies on the migration of several bird species, most notably Bohemian waxwing, which have been colour ringed in Aberdeen since the 1980s.

He was awarded the Bernard Tucker Medal in 2008 for outstanding service to the British Trust for Ornithology.

Rocky Votolato

Rocky Votolato (born March 8, 1977 in Dallas, Texas, United States), is an American singer-songwriter.

Second Nature Recordings

Second Nature Recordings is an independent record label based in Kansas City, Missouri. It specializes in indie rock and co-releases vinyl pressings for other labels. The label has released material by Coalesce, The Blood Brothers, Waxwing, These Arms Are Snakes, and The Casket Lottery.

Second Nature was founded by Dan Askew after he started a zine in high school also entitled Second Nature. His zine was combined with a friend's with the intention of releasing compilation CDs. The label released a CD compiling some of Coalesce's unreleased tracks with their 7" demo, and Askew joined the band for a tour.

The Blood Brothers (band)

The Blood Brothers were an American post-hardcore band from 1997-2007, formed in Eastside Seattle. The quintet has released five albums to date, as well as numerous side projects on behalf of the members. They reunited for a series of shows surrounding and including FYF Fest in 2014.

USS Waxwing (AM-389)

USS Waxwing (AM-389) was an Auk-class minesweeper acquired by the United States Navy for the dangerous task of removing mines from minefields laid in the water to prevent ships from passing. She was the only U.S. Navy ship named for the waxwing, any of several American and Asiatic songbirds which are for the most part brown and are characterized by predominant crests and velvety plumage.

Waxwing was laid down on 24 May 1944 by the American Ship Building Company, Lorain, Ohio; launched on 10 March 1945; and commissioned on 6 August 1945, Lt. Comdr. J. F. Rowe in command.

Waxwing (band)

Waxwing was an indie rock band from Seattle, Washington.

Waxwing (disambiguation)

The waxwings are passerine birds classified in the genus Bombycilla.

Waxwing may also refer to:

Waxwing (band), a Seattle band

The Waxwings, a Detroit band

Waxwing (rocket motor), a solid rocket motor

Waxwing (rocket motor)

Waxwing was a British solid rocket motor used for apogee kick as the 3rd (upper) stage of the Black Arrow satellite launch vehicles.

Waxwing was used to successfully place the Prospero X-3 satellite into low Earth orbit on 28 October 1971, Britain's only satellite launch on an indigenously-developed launch vehicle.

Another use of Waxwing was to increase the velocity of test re-entry vehicles on Black Knight during tests for the Blue Streak missile.

Why We Fight (album)

Why We Fight is the first album from Seattle-based Gatsbys American Dream. It is presumably named after the World War II documentary series.

It is the only album including former drummer Dustin McGhye who remained for two tours after the CD release and was replaced by Waxwing drummer Rudy Gajadhar, and bassist Josh Berg who remained only to the end of the recording session, where he was replaced by current bassist Kirk Huffman.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.