A plump bird with smooth plumage wearing a sleek crest and white and yellow markings on its wings.


The Bohemian waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) is a bird whose name comes from its striking wing pattern on the secondary flight feathers with flattened tips that appear bright red. Males have brownish-grey plumage with a pale grey rump and underparts, and dark chestnut-orange under tail coverts. Flight feathers on the wings are blackish with primary tips showing yellow edges on the outer webs. Primary covers and secondary coverts show broad white tips. Secondaries also have long, flattened wax-like red tips. The tail is blackish, with a conspicuous bright yellow terminal band. The head and crown are shaded cinnamon to warm tawny. A black mask runs from the base of the bill through the eye and round to the rear of the head under a prominent backward-pointing crest. Chin and throat are black, the bill is also black with a pale base. The eyes are dark brown, and the legs and feet dark grey to black.

The female looks very similar to her male counterpart though she has a more narrow yellow terminal band.
Her throat is also less well-defined along the lower edge. In its leucistic form the red and yellow pop even more against pure white plumage.

The Bohemian Waxwing breeds in northern coniferous forests, mainly in open forested areas, or along forest edges and near rivers and areas where it can find dense growth or fruiting trees and bushes. During wintertime, it frequents various types of habitats with scattered trees and fruiting trees and bushes. It can be seen in gardens, farmland, roadsides, and deciduous forest edges.

This bird is mainly a fruit eater, but it also feeds on insects, especially during the breeding season. It will also take buds, flowers, tree sap, shoots and leaves, moss, and lichens. The diet is sometimes complemented by spiders and snails.

During the breeding season, a nest is usually built high in a pine tree but feeding opportunities determine the location ultimately chosen. Each bird or pair may have more than one nest in the same general area. The nests have an outer diameter of 15cm to 18cm and are lined with fine grass, moss, and down. On average, 4 to 6 eggs are laid within, the egg shells having a pale bluish color with a heavy sprinkling of blackish spots and some dark, irregular lines. Incubation is around 14 days and the young leave the nest about 13 to 15 days after hatching.

The Bohemian Waxwing is common with stable populations and has had some increase in recent years. This species is not currently considered threatened.

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