About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cedar Waxwing Courtship Behavior

Our Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing store is surrounded by a variety of crab apple trees that ripen at different times of the year and attracts flocks of waxwings year-round. Waxwings also catch and eat flying insects on the wing or glean vegetation for crawling bugs.

You might hear the waxwings before you see them. They have a very distinctive thin, high-pitched warbled "zeee" or "zeeet" call that is hard to forget. They are very social and usually fly in large flocks and often nest in loose clusters of a dozen or so nests.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
They don’t begin to nest until later in the summer when there is plenty of fruit to feed the babies. Cedar Waxwing pairs perform a wonderful courtship dance before mating where the male approaches the female and hops gently forward to offer the female a berry. When the female accepts the berry she’ll dance away and then dance back and give the berry back to the male. They repeat this a few times until the female eats the gift.

The name "waxwing" comes from the waxy red secretions found on the birds’ wingtips. The red waxy drops are actually flattened extensions of the feather shafts colored by astaxanthin, a carotenoid pigment. Both males and females have the red waxy tips on their wings but only after their second fall. The older the bird, the more showy the red tips.

Studies show that the birds only mate with birds within their own age range and the amount of wax on the wing may be how the birds determine who is in their mate group. 
Watch the video: https://vimeo.com/60537705
Cedar Waxwing Bonding Behavior from William Stifel on Vimeo.
Related Articles:
What birds eat apples?
Cedar Waxwing: The Older the Bird, the Showier the Wax Red Tips
The Cedar Waxwing: A Songbird Without a Song
Bird of the Week: Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwings or Squeaky Brakes

1 comment:

Jack in Milford said...

I think that the Cedar Wax Wing is the most beautiful bird that visits our yard...We have many Serviceberry trees in our neighborhood and for the last few years a large flock will come in for a week or two and wipe the berries out...I have also seen them in the snow going after the flowering crab berries...Just a gorgeous bird!