Waxwings

The waxwings are a group of passerine birds characterised by soft silky plumage and unique red tips to some of the wing feathers. In the Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its name.

These are arboreal birds of northern forests. They live on insects in summer and berries in winter.

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.

Some authorities (including the Sibley-Monroe checklist) place the silky-flycatchers, and the Hypocolius, in family Bombycillidae along with the waxwings.

The male and female have the same plumage and cannot be identified by plumage differences.

Species

Quote

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the windowpane

These are the first lines of the poem “Pale Fire” by “John Shade,” a fictional poet created by Vladimir Nabokov, for his novel Pale Fire.