Though Cedar Waxwings are known for their preference for eating fruit, they are actually also accomplished flycatchers. Daisy and I had the great pleasure of watching a flock of them showcasing their aerial abilities the other day at Five Rivers. Of course, I took a ton of pictures.

But as is often the case when photographing birds, especially birds in action, the forty shots I took translated to four that I am not embarrassed to share. Not that any of the four following photos are perfect or anything close, but once I saw the gorgeous birds dashing about, spreading their yellow-tipped tail (no orange ones today) for greater maneuverability, and being just plain gorgeous, I knew I had to blog about them. I’ll be going back to try for better, but in the meantime…

Cedar Waxwing flycatching


intent on a bug

tail spread for maneuverability

If you want to see these beautiful birds in your yard plant some berry-bearing bushes, or, better yet, plant a mulberry tree. Almost every time I’ve come across a mulberry tree with ripe berries it was crawling with waxwings. In fact, just up the trail from where I took these shots is a big old mulberry tree that earlier this year was probably providing these very same waxwings with an easier-to-catch meal.

And, just in case you are interested, Bohemian Waxwings, the Cedar Waxwings bigger and even brighter cousin, also fly-catch when berries are not available. Most people not living in the extreme north just don’t get to see them do it very often because Bohemian Waxwings are usually only around in the depths of winter when there are no flies to catch.

For more information on the world’s three waxwing species (the two mentioned and the Japanese Waxwing) check out Douglas Dunn’s Waxwings Are Wild page.

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.