A trio of Cedar Waxwings, Bombycilla cedrorum, silky and dapper, pauses from plundering an ornamental crabapple. I made this image almost exactly four years ago in Wyandot County. Then, as would be the case now, I was excited to see these animals and lingered to admire them. To me at least, just about all birds are worthy of admiration, but waxwings require an extra glance. They are avian Clark Gables: sophisticated, impeccably tailored, unflappable and refined. A waxwing is the model sashaying down the runway; chickadees, robins, and jays are merely coarse and ill-mannered louts shouting and gawking from the seats below.
The family Bombycillidae is a small one: it represents just .0003 of the world’s birds. Pictured above, courtesy WikiCommons, is the Japanese Waxwing, Bombycilla japonicum, one of only three waxwing species on the globe and the one least familiar to North American birders. This eastern Asian species gives up nothing in the looks department to its American counterparts.
In this part of the world, the appearance of Bohemian Waxwings always causes a stir. They’re rare – quite rare – here, and their appearances are utterly unpredictable in any given locale. Thus it was a momentous occasion last Saturday when a group of Columbus birders stumbled into a flock of eleven BoWax pilfering fruit from a crabapple tree at Maumee Bay State Park. Word soon spread and before long many other birders were basking in the presence of the regal waxwings. Dane Adams, who has kindly shared many of his excellent photos with this blog, made the scene and provided this beautiful image.
This winter is shaping up to be a good one for Bohemian Waxwings in this region, or at least good for birders who are seeking them. This eBird map shows, in purple, the extent of their eastward sweep. Keep a close eye out for waxwings and scrutinize flocks when you find them. Sometimes Bohemians get in with the Cedars and can be easy to overlook. Waxwings, of either species, are often drawn to ornamental fruit-bearing trees such as crabapples, hawthorns, and the like and thus the birds can appear even in very urban areas.