White Season Birds: Bohemian Waxwing

Photo of Bohemian Waxwings

Wild fruit offerings are fairly scarce by February, but by scanning shopping plaza parking lots, college campuses, sidewalk plantings, and country roads, one can often find Crab Apple (Malus spp.) trees still covered with fruit. In locating a larder, you may also locate fruit-eating birds, like European Starlings, American Robins, Cedar Waxwings, or even Bohemian Waxwings. Whereas the first three species are expected in winter (here in southern Maine), Bohemians are "irruptive winter migrants" -- only in certain years do they venture into northern New England (rarely farther south) in search of sustenance.

Cedar Waxwings have yellowish bellies with white under-tails; Bohemians have gray bellies with reddish under-tails. Bohemians are also larger and trill at a lower pitch than Cedar Waxwings. Here's an audio sample.

The first Bohemian I saw this year was with a flock of Cedars in Wells, ME. Can you pick out the bird in this fuzzy photo?

Photo of Bohemian Waxwing with Cedar Waxwings

My second sighting, in Ogunquit, was a single Bohemian with a flock of American Robins and European Starlings. A few days later in Biddeford, I noticed a bunch of waxwings in a roadside tree -- they all turned out to be Bohemians. Conditions were less than ideal for photographs, but today's first and last shots give a sense of their striking beauty.

Photo of Bohemian Waxwings

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