Bohemian Waxwings


A week ago, I posted pictures of a winter visitor to the valley bottom: a Pygmy Owl. Given its preferences, this owl would prefer to go after irruptive birds. This week many irruptive birds, Bohemian Waxwings, arrived about a hundred metres from where the Pygmy Owl had been. The owl’s timing was a bit off.

When irrupting, Bohemian Waxwings travel in great numbers, a few hundred together. They find a staging tree next to a berry tree. From there, they travel in smaller numbers to feed on the berries. 

A view of a quarter to a third of the birds await their turn in a staging tree.

A small group flies from the staging tree to feed on rowan berries (mountain ash).

The waxwings are voracious. Two of them have berries in their throats.

As the rowan berries hang below the twigs, the birds often often grab them upside down.

Here, one bird grabs a berry and another is about to.

Repositioning the berry.

Having swallowed a berry, a waxwing flies back to the staging tree.

Pictures two and three courtesy Cynthia Fraser.


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8 Responses to Bohemian Waxwings

  1. Trevor Goward says:

    Viewing these delightful images, can anyone doubt that Waxwings are among the most photogenic of birds?

    Many thanks, Alistair and Cynthia, for sharing this wonderful symphonic interlude with us.

  2. Shirleen Smith says:

    My favourite bird. I rescued one once – a cat? a window? – and it had a broken wing, couldn’t fly (ever). A young one, judging by the creases by its beak. The absolute friendliest, most charming bird you’ve ever met. He(?) would grab a halved grape from my plate and walk up my arm to my head to eat it. He sang beautifully. There’s nothing not to love in Bohemian Waxwings.

  3. Awesome, Alistair and Cynthia. Thank you for zooming in on yet another local marvel.

  4. Gail Frampton says:

    Beautiful photos as always-thanks for sharing Alistair!

  5. Susan Mckeen-Brown says:

    Love these photos Alistair!
    Thank you

  6. Pamella Wik says:

    Some years ago I saw them in the off season at Kokanee Beach. From the few spare deciduous they flew down to the water’s edge in small (arched?) flocks and made their way down the beach – and then back again, I think – through successive landings in front of the former group in a kind of elegant arial leap-frogging. I wonder if others have seen similar and what was happening. It was mesmerizing.

    • Monique Slipher says:

      I saw a large flock of Bohemians about a month ago in Anatone, WA do something slightly different, but also mesmerizing: They swooped down in batches of maybe 50 at a time from bare treetops to the creek below, just barely touching down, then swirled up again, then back down in a continuous spiraling motion for a few minutes… We thought maybe they were drinking, but they barely touched the water before swirling up again?
      We had a number of large flocks last week in my neighborhood in Pullman, WA – flying from treetop to treetop in the sunny mornings, calling constantly… Such gorgeous and fun birds!

  7. Pamella Wik says:

    Thanks for recounting your experience, Monique. I think the ones I saw displayed
    similarly, and barely touched down also: hence the mesmerizing elegance. I wondered if they were catching tiny organisms on the water’s surface. I, too, feel waxwings are
    especially special, all birds are, but these…. transfix one.

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