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The Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) is a member of the waxwing family of passerines. A sleek bird, 18–21 cm long with a pointed crest, it travels in large, nomadic groups with a strong, direct flight. It breeds in coniferous forests throughout the most northern parts of Europe, Asia and western North America. While the Cedar Waxwing inhabits only North America and the Japanese Waxwing lives exclusively in Asia, the Bohemian Waxwing is the only member of this family whose range circumnavigates all the continents just below the sub-Arctic latitudes.

Its English name refers to the bright red bead-like tips of the secondary feathers on its wings, which look like drops of sealing wax, while 'Bohemian' refers to its (presumed) origin from Bohemia (at the time, a relatively unknown but "distant, eastern" place). It is larger and greyer than the Cedar Waxwing and has bright yellow tips on its tail feathers and a yellow or white stripe along the wing feathers. Under tail coverts are a deep rust color. Both beak and feet are dark and the brown eyes are set in a narrow black mask underlined with white.

The preferred nest is usually 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 15 cm to 18 cm and are lined with fine grass, moss, and down. On average, 4 to 6 eggs are laid, 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.

Like other waxwings, its diet consists primarily of berries supplemented by insects, especially during the breeding season.

This species is irruptive, moving in unpredictable migration patterns from year to year, and particularly moving south, often in huge numbers, if the berry supply fails in winter.

The call is a pleasant ringing sound, similar to that of the Cedar Waxwing but lower pitched.

Birds in winter can be very confiding and will come into gardens for berry bushes and trees, a favourite being the rowan.

The generic name Bombycilla, from Latin Bombyx (silk / silk moth) + cilla (tail), is a direct translation of the Swedishmarker name 'Sidensvans', silk-tail, and refers to the silky-soft plumage of the bird; the species name garrulus means 'noisy' or 'quarrelsome'.


File:BohemianWaxwings08.jpgFile:Bombycilla_garrulusII.jpgFile:Bombycilla_garrulus_small.jpgFile:Sviristel24feb2007 01 crf.jpgFile:Waxwing in Temple of Heaven.JPGFile:Bohemian Waxwing 2007.jpg


  • Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern

External links

Further reading


  • Witmer, M. C. 2002. Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus). In The Birds of North America, No. 714 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.


  • Burns JB. M.S. (2000). Sexual dichromatism in Bohemian waxwings. Utah State University, United States—Utah.



  • Babo T. (1981). Mass Occurrence of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus in the District of Nitra Slovakia Czechoslovakia and Its Close Surroundings. Zbornik Slovenskeho Narodneho Muzea Prirodne Vedy. vol 27, p. 141-146.

  • Berthold P. (1976). The Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus as a Frugivorous Feeding Specialist. Experientia. vol 32, no 11.

  • Bojanski T. (1967). Mass Appearance of Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus in Old City Stare Miasto Warsaw Poland. Notatki Ornitologiczne. vol 8, no 2-3. p. 61-62.

  • Borowski S. (1966). On the Food of the Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus Mistletoe-D Snowberry-D Wayfaring-Tree-D. Przeglad Zoologiczny. vol 10, no 1. p. 62-64.

  • Car Z. (1973). The Spring Migration of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus in 1954. Larus. vol 10, no 1973.

  • Cornai R. (1980). Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in Backa Voivodina in 1954. Larus. vol 8.

  • Cvitanic A. (1958). Observation of the Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus Nutrition in Captivity. Larus. vol 13, p. 49-50.

  • Cvitanic A. (1960). Characters of Specimens of Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus Collected in Croatia Slovenia Serbia and Vojvodina. Larus. vol 14, p. 121-126.

  • Dathe H. (1992). Another note on reports of waxwing Bombycilla garrulus in Italy 1946/1947. Beitraege zur Vogelkunde. vol 38, no 4.

  • De Juana E. (2005). Report on rare birds in Spain in 2003. Ardeola. vol 52, no 1. p. 185-206.

  • Dorning H. (1980). Unusual Feather Ornament of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus-Garrulus. Larus. vol 3, no 49.

  • Durnev Yu A, Lipin SI, Sirokhin IN & Sonin VD. (1982). An Experiment in Studying Bird Diet Using Fecal Analysis. Biologicheskie Nauki. vol 9, p. 103-107.

  • Englund R. (1993). Fruit removal in Viburnum opulus: Copious seed predation and sporadic massive seed dispersal in a temperate shrub. Oikos. vol 67, no 3. p. 503-510.

  • Erard C. (1967). Irruption of Chatterers Bombycilla-Garrulus in France in 1965-1966. Alauda. vol 35, no 4. p. 270-287.

  • Eriksson K & Nummi H. (1983). Alcohol Accumulation from Ingested Berries and Alcohol Metabolism in Passerine Birds. Ornis Fennica. vol 60, no 1. p. 2-9.

  • Fernbach J. (1960). Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in Winter 1959-1960 in Subotica. Larus. vol 14, no 154.

  • Fischer W, Minnemann D, Grummt W, Dathe H & Creutz G. (1975). A Conspicuous Return of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus to the Berlin Area in the Spring of 1972. Beitraege zur Vogelkunde. vol 21, no 6. p. 492-493.

  • Fouarge J & Vandevondele P. (2005). Synthesis on the exceptional invasion of Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) in Europe in 2004-2005. Aves. vol 42, no 4. p. 281-311.

  • Fouarge J & Vandevondele P. (2006). The Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) during the 2004-2005 invasion. Analysis of Belgian and Luxemburg data. Notes on behavior in Belgium and Europe. Aves. vol 43, no 3. p. 129-156.

  • Grubbe O. (1971). Further Observations on the Bohemian Waxwing. Gefiederte Welt. vol 95, no 8. p. 153-154.

  • Harmata W. (1987). On Food in Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus L. Field and Laboratory Observations. Przeglad Zoologiczny. vol 31, no 3. p. 359-364.

  • Hilden O. (1977). Occurrence of Irregular Migrants in Finland in 1976. Ornis Fennica. vol 54, no 4. p. 170-179.

  • Houston CS. (1968). Bohemian Waxwing Banding. Ring International Ornithological Bulletin. vol 55, p. 116-118.

  • Hummel ER. (1971). The 1st Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus. Gefiederte Welt. vol 95, no 12.

  • Jacob J-P. (1996). Invasion of waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) in the beginning of 1996 in Wallonia and in Brussels. Aves. vol 33, no 3. p. 137-152.

  • James PC, Smith AR, Oliphant LW & Warkentin IG. (1987). Northward Expansion of the Wintering Range of Richardson's Merlin. Journal of Field Ornithology. vol 58, no 2. p. 112-117.

  • Johnson JW. (1970). Bohemian Waxwing Ceremony at Huron. South Dakota Bird Notes. vol 22, no 3. p. 103-104.

  • Kalden G. (2003). [Observations of Bombycilla garrulus in the winter of 2002-03.]. Vogelkundliche Hefte Edertal. vol 29, p. 55-58.

  • Kalden G. (2005). Largest Bohemian waxwing invasion (Bombycilla garrulus) in forty years. Vogelkundliche Hefte Edertal. vol 31, p. 68-71.

  • Keve A. (1972). 2 Year Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus-Garrulus Invasion. Larus. vol 5, p. 53-60.

  • Keve A. (1980). 10 Year Study of Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus Invasions in Hungary and in the Carpathian Basin 1938-1939 1947-1948. Larus. vol 3, p. 43-47.

  • Klein B. (1971). Bombycilla-Garrulus and Nucifraga-Caryocatactes. Alauda. vol 39, no 1. p. 78-79.

  • Koenig WD & Knops JMH. (2001). Seed-crop size and eruptions of North American boreal seed-eating birds. Journal of Animal Ecology. vol 70, no 4. p. 609-620.

  • Kollar HP & Seiter M. (1991). Irruption of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus in the Riverside Forests Along the Danube Austria East of Vienna in 1988-89 and 1989-90. Egretta. vol 34, no 1. p. 42-49.

  • Kolunen H & Vikberg P. (1978). Migrations of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus 1969-1977 Paijat-Hame. Ornis Fennica. vol 55, no 3. p. 126-131.

  • Krauss W. (1972). Report on the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus 1970-71 Invasion in Bavaria. Anzeiger der Ornithologischen Gesellschaft in Bayern. vol 11, no 1. p. 54-57.

  • Kroneisl R. (1971). Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in the Winter of 1947-1948. Larus. vol 2, no 113.

  • Kroneisl R. (1980). Occurrence of Waxing Bombycilla-Garrulus in Yugoslavia in 1949. Larus. vol 3, no 281.

  • Kumerloeve H. (1980). Invasion of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus During the Winter of 1941 1942. Larus. vol 8.

  • Milberg P & Tyrberg T. (1990). Do the Feeding Habits of Birds Determine the Distribution of Mistletoe Viscum-Album in Sweden. Fauna och Flora Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet. vol 85, no 6. p. 253-259.

  • Moltoni E. (1971). The Appearance of the Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus in Italy in 1970-1971. Rivista Italiana di Ornitologia. vol 41, no 3. p. 150-160.

  • Moltoni E. (1974). Notes on the Appearance in Italy of the Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus-Garrulus in 1971-1972 with Accompanying Data on Incursions During Recent Years. Rivista Italiana di Ornitologia. vol 44, no 3. p. 197-205.

  • Moltoni E & Brichetti P. (1976). Note on the Appearance in Italy of the Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus in 1974-1975 and 1975-1976 Fall and Water Seasons. Rivista Italiana di Ornitologia. vol 46, no 1. p. 24-32.

  • Nankinow D. (1993). Invasion of waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus L.) in Bulgaria and considerations on its spreading to eastern Europe. Beitraege zur Vogelkunde. vol 39, no 6. p. 361-375.

  • Peck MK, Coady G, Binsfeld G & Konze KR. (2004). First documented nest record of Bohemian Waxwing in Ontario. Ontario Birds. vol 22, no 1. p. 9-14.

  • Pelle I. (1969). Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in the Banat Yugoslavia in Winter 1970-71. Larus. vol 23, no 207.

  • Pelle I. (1980). Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in Stara Kanjiza in Winter 1953 1954. Larus. vol 8.

  • Petersen MR, Weir DN & Dick MH. (1991). Birds of the Kilbuck and Ahklun Mountain Region Alaska. North American Fauna. vol 76, p. 1-158.

  • Plath L. (1983). Kestrel Falco-Tinnunculus Kills Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus. Beitraege zur Vogelkunde. vol 29, no 4. p. 247-248.

  • Plini P. (1989). A Record of Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus in Latium Central Italy. Rivista Italiana di Ornitologia. vol 59, no 3-4. p. 309-310.

  • Preuss NO. (1968). Influx of Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in Denmark 1965-1966. Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift. vol 62, no 2. p. 105-125.

  • Preuss NO. (1969). Influx of Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in Denmark 1966-1967. Dansk Ornitologisk Forenings Tidsskrift. vol 63, no 1. p. 45-49.

  • Ptaszyk J. (2004). Numbers, phenology and diet of the Waxwing Bombycilia garrulus in Poznan in 1966/1967-1995/1996. Notatki Ornitologiczne. vol 45, no 4. p. 229-240.

  • Rafajlovic A. (1972). Incidence of Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in Subotica in 1958. Larus. vol 11, no 120.

  • Reichholf-Riehm H. (1972). Daytime Distribution of Foraging in Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in Southeastern Bavaria During the Invasion of 1970-1971 and 1971-1972. Anzeiger der Ornithologischen Gesellschaft in Bayern. vol 11, no 2. p. 190-193.

  • Rucner D. (1958). Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus Invasion of Yugoslavia in Winter 1958-1959. Larus. vol 13, p. 205-206.

  • Rucner D. (1960). Occurrence of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus at the Beginning of 1960 in Croatia. Larus. vol 14, no 154.

  • Rucner D. (1970). On the Occurrence of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus in the Beginning of 1972 in Croatia. Larus. vol 24, no 163.

  • Rucner D. (1972). Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in Yugoslavia at the Beginning of 1958. Larus. vol 11, p. 119-120.

  • Rucner D. (1974). Incidence of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus in Croatia at the Beginning of 1972. Larus. vol 24, no 1974.

  • Rucner D. (1980). Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus in the Zagreb Area in 1953 and 1954. Larus. vol 8.

  • Rucner R. (1969). Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in Winter 1970-1971 in Zagreb Yugoslavia. Larus. vol 23, no 207.

  • Sammalisto L. (1977). The Winter Bird Census in 1976-1977. Ornis Fennica. vol 54, no 3. p. 127-132.

  • Sammalisto L. (1978). Finnish Winter Birds in 1977-1978. Ornis Fennica. vol 55, no 4. p. 164-170.

  • Sammalisto L. (1980). Winter Birds in the Census 1979-1980. Ornis Fennica. vol 57, no 4. p. 167-172.

  • Sammalisto L. (1981). Census of the Finnish Winter Birds in 1980-1981. Ornis Fennica. vol 58, no 4. p. 167-174.

  • Scheifler HJ. (1972). Further Observations of Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus. Gefiederte Welt. vol 96, no 3.

  • Skoracki M. (2002). Three new species of the ectoparasitic mites of the genus Syringophiloidus Kethley, 1970 (Acari: Syringophilidae) from passeriform birds from Slovakia. Folia Parasitologica. vol 49, no 4. p. 305-313.

  • Spicer GS. (1978). A New Species and Several New Host Records of Avian Nasal Mites Acarina Rhinonyssinae Turbinoptinae. Journal of Parasitology. vol 64, no 5. p. 891-894.

  • Stromar L. (1970). Incidence of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus in Yugoslavia in Winter 1965-1966. Larus. vol 20, p. 41-52.

  • Stromar L. (1970). Incidence of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus on the Territory of Croatia During 1966-1967 and 1967-1968. Larus. vol 20, no 97.

  • Tutman I. (1980). Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in Dubrovnik in 1954. Larus. vol 8.

  • Van Der Elst D. (1986). On the Status of the Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus in Walloon and Brussels Belgium. Aves. vol 23, no 4. p. 254-256.

  • Voronov NP & Voronov LN. (1978). Morphometric Study of the Digestive System of the Waxwing Bombycilla-Garrulus Aves Bombycillidae. Vestnik Zoologii. vol 5, p. 28-31.

  • Warkentin IG & Oliphant LW. (1990). Habitat Use and Foraging Behavior of Urban Merlins Falco-Columbarius in Winter. Journal of Zoology. vol 221, no 4. p. 539-564.

  • Wunderlich K & Von Vietinghoff-Scheel E. (1975). Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus in Moscow in Late Winter. Beitraege zur Vogelkunde. vol 21, no 6.

  • Yocom CF. (1970). Bohemian Waxwing Invasion of Humboldt County California 1969. Murrelet. vol 51, no 2. p. 21-22.

  • Zink G. (1969). Banded Bohemian Waxwings Bombycilla-Garrulus of the Invasion of 1965 to 1966 Which Were Found Again. Bonner Zoologische Beitraege. vol 20, no 1-3. p. 191-199.

  • Zinnenlauf B. (1969). The Arrival of Bombycilla-Garrulus in the Winter 1967-1968 in Switzerland. Ornithologische Beobachter. vol 66, no 1. p. 15-16.

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