South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Cedar Waxwing

Bombycilla cedrorum

Length: 7 inches Wingspan: 11 to 12.25 inches Seasonality: All Seasons
ID Keys: Brownish back and sides, white undertail coverts, yellow wash on belly, yellow tips on tail.

Cedar Waxwing - Bombycilla cedrorum A very nomadic bird, moving irregularly, being present in very large numbers on one occasion and being completely absent on another.  Cedar Waxwings are very sociable birds, rarely found alone.  They are known for their "fruit passing" behavior, where a line of Waxwings on a branch will sometimes pass a piece of fruit back and forth between birds. The namesake "waxwing", the red waxy tips on the secondary wing feathers, are often a good way to age a Cedar Waxwing, as young birds often show now red at all, while the older the bird, the more red is often present.  Cedar Waxwings and Bohemian Waxwings sometimes flock together in the state in the winter, although Cedar Waxwings are typically much more common, especially in the eastern part of the state.

Habitat: Deciduous woodlands in summer, fruit-bearing trees and shrubs in the winter.  They can also often be found in urban settings, especially when fruiting bushes and trees are present.

Diet: Mostly berries and insects.  Majority of annual diet is berries and small fruits, especially juniper, dogwood, and wild cherries.  Will also eat flower blossoms and catkins.  Much of the summer diet includes insects.

Behavior: Extremely social birds, rarely found alone.  Cedar Waxwings are often quite tame, allowing close approach by human beings as they forage.

Nesting: Irregular and late nester.

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Cedar Waxwing Song, also Cedar Waxwing Call.

Migration: Irregular migrant, difficult to predict.  Some may winter in the Southern U.S. down through Central America, and some may overwinter even in the harsh South Dakota winters.

Similar Species: Bohemian Waxwing.  See Comparison Chart. 

Feeders: Will attend feeders for various fruits and berries. 

Conservation Status: Numbers appear to be stable.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Cedar Waxwing

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Cedar Waxwing"

3) Cedar Waxwing

Photo Information: June 28th, 2011 - Ecola State Park in Oregon - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Cedar Waxwing photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Cedar Waxwing - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Permanent resident through most of the state where suitable habitat exists.  Movements hard to predict, and may be absent to abundant.