Jun 12, 2019 | Featured Web Article

The Differences Between Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings

If you're flipping through a field guide or browsing through a quick internet image search, it can be hard to tell the difference between North America’s two waxwing species.
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If you're flipping through a field guide or browsing through a quick internet image search, it can be hard to tell the difference between North America's two waxwing species. They both have distinctive crests, black masks, bodies in shades of brown and gray, red-tipped secondaries, and yellow-tipped tailfeathers. However, if you look just a little bit closer, you can distinguish cedar waxwings from their bohemian cousins fairly easily.

The cedar waxwing has a mostly brown body with a yellowish breast and belly.

One giveaway is the overall coloration. A bohemian waxwing is primarily gray, with a peachy blush around its mask and a rusty undertail. The cedar waxwing, on the other hand, has a mostly brown body with a yellowish breast and belly. Its undertail is white. Both species display minimal sexual dimorphism: males may be slightly darker and larger than females, but otherwise their appearances are identical.

A bohemian waxwing is primarily gray, with a peachy blush around its mask and a rusty undertail.

A second distinguishing characteristic is the size. While you probably won't see samples of both species side by side for easy comparison, just remember that bohemian is bigger, about the size of an American robin. Cedar waxwings are between a sparrow and a starling in stature.

Finally, if you encounter a flock of waxwings in your backyard, your location and the time of year should help you determine which species you're seeing. Cedar waxwings can be found in the lower half of the contiguous United States during the winter, in much of the lower Canadian provinces during the breeding season, and in the upper half of the U.S. and lowermost points of Canada year-round. They prefer to frequent woodlands, orchards, and suburban gardens with fruit-bearing trees and shrubs. Bohemian warblers winter in the upper contiguous U.S. and lower Canadian provinces, irrupting southward on an irregular schedule in search of fruit. They spend the breeding season in Alaska and the northwestern Canadian provinces, including Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, and can be spotted year-round in a limited area of western Canada. The bohemian waxwing's habitats of choice are open evergreen forests in summer and park-like settings in both cities and forests in winter.



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