Late Summer Nester
The Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) is a common New Brunswick summer resident. It is usually found in brushy habitat, open areas, and suburbia where it can find its favourite food: flowers, buds, berries and other small fruits, and insects. Its high pitched zeeeee call is a common summer sound.
Any brownish bird with a crest and a yellow tip on its tail is a waxwing. We have two species, the Cedar and the Bohemian Waxwings. Generally the Cedar Waxwing is a summer resident and breeder here and the Bohemian is a winter visitor. The Cedar Waxwing is a bit smaller than the Bohemian Waxwing. It is 18 cm long (7.3"). It is usually seen in flocks as it flits from one food source to another. It has a black mask and black on the upper throat. Its body is a smooth brown which transitions into yellow on the belly. It has white under tail coverts. The dark wings sometimes have bright scarlet 'wax' appendages. The Cedar Waxwing can be told from the Bohemian Waxwing because it lacks the cinnamon colour on the under tail coverts and it has no white bar on the wing.
As indicated in the title above, the Cedar Waxwing is a late summer nester. It delays its nesting until there is an abundance of berries to feed its young. This is an interesting adaptation by this species. They can be seen almost everywhere in summer in New Brunswick. This species is native to most of southern Canada and the United States. It winters in the southernmost parts of Canada (including a few in New Brunswick), the United States and into Central America. In winter it is not unusual to see some here mingled in with flocks of Bohemian Waxwings.
There have been some Cedar Waxwings reported with an orange tail tip rather than the characteristic yellow. That is because they have been eating the fruit of an exotic honeysuckle species during molt which taints their feather colour during new feather growth.
The juvenile waxwings are mainly grayish with the characteristic crest, streaks on their breast and a white chin. They will soon be seen in our area so watch for them with the flocks of adults. Good birding!