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|
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.
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