Waxwing - a bird with a tuft on his head


Waxwing (Bombuse) is a bird belonging to the monotypic family of waxwing (Bombillidae), which includes three species. Some time ago, the brownish ones belonged to the subfamily Silk waxwings, but now they are representatives of a separate Ptiloganatidae family.

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Waxwing Description

Waxwings - birds are small in size, but have a fairly bright and noticeable color. To date, nine species are known and described, forming a pair of families: silky waxwings and waxwings. Previously, all nine species were representatives of the same family. All birds of the Sparrow-like order and the Family of the Sviristelle have a very characteristic and attractive appearance, but sexual dimorphism in such birds is not clearly pronounced.

The singing of the waxwing resembles the murmuring iridescent trill of “sweri-ri-ri-ri” or “sviriri-sviriri,” which is very similar to the sound of the flute, which caused such an unusual name of the species. The flight of representatives of the monotypic family of hot wax is consistently straightforward and fairly fast.


The body length of an adult individual is not more than 18-23 cm, with an average weight in the range of 55-68 grams. At waxwings there is a well-marked tuft on the head. The color is pinkish-gray, with wings of black color, in the presence of yellow and white stripes. The tail part, the throat area and the strip passing through the eyes, have a black coloration. The tips on the secondary wing feathers have the appearance of small bright red plates that are clearly distinguishable only by close examination. On the edge of the tail there is a very noticeable yellow stripe, and on the wing there is a narrow strip of white color.

Different types have some external difference. The Amur, or the Japanese waxwing (Bombils jaronis) is a small-sized warbler, with a body about 15-16 cm long. It has red tips of the steering feathers, as well as red wings. The American, or cedar waxwing (Bombilla cedrórum) has a less bright and noticeable coloring, and the ordinary waxwing (Bombillа gаrrulus) has a soft, silky, mostly brown plumage with black and yellow markings.

It is interesting! Youngsters before the first molt in the fall are brownish-gray, with a brown-whitish belly, and for the chick's outfit is characterized by the presence of a chestnut undertail and a developed yellow color on the tail and wings.

The beak of the bird is relatively short and relatively wide, resembling the beak of a flycatcher, with a straight lower mandible and a slightly curved apex above the beak. The legs of the bird are strong, having curved claws, which are well adapted for embracing the branches, but not for quick movement. The tail part is short. There are identical tail feathers. Wings of birds are rather long, with apex formed by a third feather and a rudimentary first feather.

Character and way of life

Waxwing is in most cases a very sedentary bird, but during the period of active reproduction, representatives of the species prefer to keep in large flocks, which intensively wander in search of a rich diet. Such birds have only one full molt during the year, which in adults is held in October and November. Young birds differ in partial molting, so they begin to change their chick outfit for the first winter plumage approximately in the last decade of summer.

The September specimens of the representatives of the monotypic family of church waxworms already at this time acquire a characteristic dark spot in the throat area. With the onset of the first autumn period, the bird ejects extremely small plumage, and the steering and flight feathers remain unchanged until the autumn of the following year.

How long does the waxwing live

Waxwing is one of the closest relatives of common sparrows, and the average life expectancy of such a bird in its natural habitat is about twelve years. Waxwings are often kept in captivity, but such birds are rarely hand-made.. With strict observance of the rules of care and maintenance, the life of such a singing pet can last about fifteen years.


Amur, or Japanese waxwing is a inhabitant of northeast Asia. In our country, such birds are common in the Amur region and in the northern part of Primorye. For wintering, the Japanese waxwing moves to Japan and Korea, as well as to the northeastern part of China. The American, or cedar waxwing inhabits the open forest regions of Canada and the northern part of the United States of America.

The wintering area of ​​such birds is quite extensive and extends to the southernmost part of Central America, and waxwings fly into the southern regions of Ukraine, on the territory of the Crimea, the North Caucasus and Transcaucasia. Often found in the delta of the Volga River and the mouth of the Urals, on the territory of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

It is interesting! The biotope is predominantly coniferous and birch areas of the forest-tundra or taiga, consisting of pine and spruce, birch, but in the eastern part of Siberia the waxwings are noted in the nesting period among the larch forest.

The ordinary waxwing was widely spread in the taiga forest zone of the Northern Hemisphere. Birds of this family live on the territory of sparse conifer and mixed forest zones, in mountains overgrown with vegetation, and also on clearings. The migration of birds to the south is everywhere carried out not earlier than the onset of perceptible cold weather or snowfall.

Almost everywhere waxwings leave their homelands no earlier than the middle of the very first autumn month. Particularly large bird flocks occur in the period from autumn to the first half of winter. Spring movement to the north, as a rule, is accomplished by small flocks.

Diet of waxwings

Amur, or Japanese waxworms feed mainly on plant foods such as fruits and berries. In spring, such small-sized birds use plant buds for food, and with the onset of summer, the basic ration of bird nutrition is supplemented with all sorts of harmful insects. Most often, birds keep in large flocks, often catch insects on the fly, and feed on larvae and young plant shoots.

From summer berry crops, birds prefer Kalina, lingonberries and mistletoe. The birds also feed on hawthorn, Siberian apple, juniper, dogrose and buckthorn. In the winter cold season, bird flocks are quite often found in settlements in the territory of the middle zone of our country, where they mainly feed on rowan berries.

Reproduction and offspring

Most common in large areas and in different biotopes is a waxwing nest in light forest, in mature trees.. Birds reach sexual maturity at the age of one. The season of intensive nesting continues from May to July. In the upper part of the trees, a nest of a cup-shaped form is erected by adult birds. To obtain a robust feathered nest, grass, hair, moss and branches of coniferous trees are used. The tray in the nest is lined with a gentle and soft lichen with bark, and sometimes cedar needles are present in the tray. Most often for nesting is used the forest edge area, close to water bodies and other nesting couples.

Every year the waxworm looks for a new partner. Courting the male for the female also consists in feeding his partner with berries. The female lays from four to six eggs of a bluish-gray coloration with blackish-purple specks. The egg-laying is incubated exclusively by the female for a couple of weeks. At this time, the male takes all the care of the feed, which can be represented by insects and fruits of berry crops. The offspring that emerged into the world becomes completely independent in about two or three weeks.

It is interesting! August is the time for the widespread mass uplift of all chicks born this year on the wing and the subsequent formation of a winter flock.

Amur or Japanese waxworms nest in larch and cedar forest zones, and the mating period lasts in late winter. For egg-laying by a female of this type, a small nest is built, which, as a rule, is located on fairly thin external branches of tall trees. The self-made nest female fills with vegetable fibers. One such clutch contains from two to seven eggs of a grayish-blue color. The process of incubation lasts an average of one week, and the entire brood period can last about 16-24 days. Both birds in a pair feed the chicks that were born.

Natural enemies

Warblers waxwing today are the source of preferred food for very many wild animals and birds of prey, so these birds play an important role in the natural food chain. The main enemies of the waxworm are martens, weasels and hawks, magpies and crows, as well as owls.

It is interesting! A significant part of the species does not have a protective coloration; therefore, bright adult birds often become prey for predators, and eggs are actively eaten by members of the weasel family and squirrels.

Small-sized birds belonging to the three species of the monotypic family of waxwings actively destroy a variety of harmful insects, and also effectively prevent a sharp increase in their population. Among other things, waxwings are among the natural distributors of seeds of many cultures and contribute to the intensive dispersal of some plants.

Population and species status

Some well-known species of waxwings remain poorly understood at the moment, but according to the IUCN, the general population of such birds is quite numerous, so its condition cannot be of concern to scientists. However, to date, the Amur waxwing is listed on the pages of the Red Book.

The decrease in the total number of representatives of this species was promoted by the uncontrolled catching of individuals that fly to winter in China, where such birds are used to prepare various dishes or are kept as decorative feathered pets.

Description of waxwings

The Waxwinger in the people is considered “the beauty of the bird”, which is not able to sing, but only chirps and whistles, issuing characteristic trills - “sviririri ...”. Packs of waxwings, well-dressed crested birds, always attract the attention of people in cities and in the countryside. These birds with short legs are slightly smaller than the starling. Their tops are decorated with large pink tufts. The little body (about 15-18 cm long) is covered with pinkish-gray plumage. It is brownish gray with red plumage; it looks pinkish gray from a distance. On the black wings are clearly visible stripes of yellow and white color. The tail, throat and strip near the eyes are black. The tail is edged with a yellow stripe, wings are decorated with a narrow white stripe. Near you can see the red tips of the feathers.

The summer habitat and nesting of waxwings are the entire taiga zone of Russia, including the forest tundra. These are coniferous forests, mixed forests and clearings of the northern territory of the country. Most often waxwings are found in places where spruce, birch and pine grow. A special subspecies nest in the Altai Mountains. By June, the waxwings return to their nesting sites. They build their nests at different tree heights. The nest is made from the building material, which is always there. These are dry twigs, grass stalks, moss and lichen. The entire structure (with a diameter of more than 20 cm and a height of about 10 cm) is lined inside with soft feathers and down. In clutch there are from three to seven ashen-blue or gray-violet eggs with gray specks and black specks. More often laying with three - five eggs. After two weeks, chicks appear. The migratory migratory birds manage to hatch chicks before they begin to fly to warmer places closer to the south with the onset of cold weather.

Waxwings can fly to the Caucasus, the Crimea and Central Asia. On the way (twice a year) in the fall and in the early spring large flocks arrive in the middle lane. They appear in the Moscow region usually in the first half of winter, sometimes to Christmas. Ornithologists have more opportunities to study these birds during the “migrations”. In the sparsely populated and inaccessible northern territory, waxwings lead a secretive sedentary lifestyle.

Waxwings on a tree

Feeding waxwings

In their homeland waxworms feed on berries, small fruits, buds, young shoots and insects. Birds got the hand to catch mosquitoes, dragonflies, butterflies and midges on the fly and find the larvae. In the autumn, the waxwings have to fly away from these places not so much from the cold as from hunger. They are driven by the need to find such places where there is a lot of food. While traveling, waxwings usually become "vegetarians." If there are many berries, the birds stop for a while and eat plenty. They like berries of mountain ash, juniper, viburnum, wild rose, barberry and other trees and shrubs.

Waxwings have an excellent appetite. Voracious warwisters eat a lot and quickly. They swallow berries whole. In such quantity that their stomachs do not have time to digest food. Funny, but about the arrival of these birds can be found by their droppings. Orange-red spots of semi-digested berries with remnants of the peel and seeds stain the steps, blind areas and areas in front of the houses. Seeds “from the waxwings” germinate in the most random places. These birds sometimes visit feeders and willingly peck seeds and dried berries.

After a few weeks of gluttony, the packs fly away, wandering from one place to another. Flight distance depends on the amount of food in new places. At the end of winter - in early spring, waxwings reappear in the Moscow region, feeding on the remaining berries and swollen buds of aspen and poplar trees.

Waxwings on wires

Drunken waxworms

Waxwings are sometimes drunk. Strange behavior of intoxicated birds has long been known. Not only in our country, but also in other states, for example, in Scandinavian ones. Such situations also arose in America, but birds ate there other fruits. Drunk waxwings are found not only in autumn, but also in spring. Sometimes intoxication is caused by the sap of the trees. For example, maple sap. His trickles spring flow down the trunk and branches with any damage to the bark. Waxwings often get drunk in a warm and humid autumn, when by the time they arrive on the bushes and trees left a lot of berries, especially mountain ash. In such climatic conditions, the juice in the berries begins to ferment. Voracious warwisters swallow everything, even fermented berries, attacking them in whole flocks.

American ornithologists studied the behavior of "drunken" waxwings and changes in their bodies. It turned out that birds have their own “risk group”. This wax-glutton. When a large number of berries eaten fermentation begins in the avian esophagus. The liver does not have time to cope with the load. Alcohol changes the behavior of birds. A flock of drunken waxwings is not at all a funny sight. Birds stop navigating in space. They are not able to fly in a straight line, crash into obstacles, fall, get injured and even die. And since the obstacles are often windows, walls of houses and the people themselves, the population starts to panic. Information appears about aggressive drunken waxworms who strive to attack people and terrorize cities.


The waxwing bird prefers the taiga zone of Russia. This is the place of its summer habitat and nesting. You can meet her in the forest tundra. She prefers mixed forests, cuttings and hvoyniki, located in the northern zone of the country. Birds, pines and spruces are most often chosen for habitats by birds.

Waxwings - migratory birds. With the onset of cold weather, they move closer to the south, where the places are warmer. Some flocks fly to the Crimea, Central Asia and the Caucasus. However, most prefer the middle lane. The waxwing bird, as a rule, appears in the first half of winter, and sometimes by Christmas, in the Moscow region.

During the wanderings, ornithologists have a great opportunity to study these birds. Indeed, in the remote and sparsely populated northern zone, waxwings lead a sedentary and secretive way of life.

At home, the bird waxwing eats small fruits and berries, young shoots and buds. Love birds and insects. They get the hand to fly midges and mosquitoes, butterflies and dragonflies. Waxworms also feed on larvae.

With the onset of autumn, the birds leave their habitable places. Driving them from there is not so much cold as hunger. They fly away in search of places where they can find food. During their travels, waxwings become vegetarians. They stop in places where there are a lot of berries. За время отдыха птицы стараются наесться вдоволь. Нравится им рябина и можжевельник, калина и барбарис. Могут они съесть ягоды и с других кустарников и деревьев.

Свиристель – птица с отменным аппетитом. Прожорливые пернатые едят быстро и помногу. Ягоды они заглатывают целиком. При этом пищу употребляют в таком количестве, что их желудки не в состоянии успеть ее переварить. An interesting fact is that the appearance of waxwings is indicated by their droppings. The birds leave red-orange spots consisting of semi-digested berries with pieces of peel. Such litter stains the grounds and steps in front of the houses. Seeds that leave waxwings sometimes grow in various places. Visit these birds can and man-made feeders. They readily peck up dried berries and seeds.

After the pack spends several weeks in one place, it flies to another. The choice of a new habitat depends on the amount of food. Waxwings appear again in the suburbs in late winter or early spring. Here they feed on the remaining berries, as well as the already swelling buds of poplars and aspens.

Strange behavior

The waxwing bird is sometimes "drunk." Such strange behavior of birds has been known for a long time. This phenomenon was observed not only in Russia. Such situations arose in America and in the countries of Scandinavia.

"Drunk" waxwings can be observed not only in the autumn, but also in the spring season. Sometimes "intoxication" provokes the sap of trees. In the spring, its trickles flow down the trunk with the slightest damage to the bark. But more often the waxwings "get drunk" in the fall if the weather is warm and humid. The juice in the berries, which remained on the bushes for the arrival of birds, begins to ferment in such conditions. Voracious birds eat everything. They swallow and fermented berries.

The behavior of "drunken" waxwings and changes in their body were studied by American ornithologists. It turned out that in case of eating a large number of berries, their fermentation begins in the esophagus. At the same time, the liver cannot cope with the increased load. Alcohol caught in the bird's body changes the behavior of birds. A flock of drunken waxwings is not a funny sight. Birds do not navigate in space. They cannot fly in a straight line, crash into various obstacles, fall, get injured, and sometimes die.

Waxwing Habitats, Migratory Bird or Not

Waxwings are frequent visitors to cities and towns in the winter, but they are secretive, so much of their behavior is not fully understood, including seasonal movements.

It would be more correct to call them conditionally nomadic, because if they fly over to other areas for the winter, then they are short distances. The desire to fly south for the winter in these birds may not occur if there is a mild winter and a lot of food in a familiar area.

The area of ​​residence is North America, the north of Europe and Asia, coniferous and mixed forests. In the autumn, in flocks, waxwings move to the south, they can be found at this time and in winter to be found in central Russia, in France, Poland, and Italy.

Some flocks fly to the Crimea and Turkey. Waxworms, living in America, live in the southwest of the continent in the summer, fly to Mexico in the winter.

Appearance Description

Waxwing - a small bird, a body about 20 cm long, weight 60 g. Pen color - gray with a pink tint, this shade is brighter on the head. On the back of the head is a spicy tuft, wings at the ends with black and white patches, coal-black spot under the beak. Females and males of Eurasian waxwings are the same in color.

The silky (American) waxwing male is black with a blue tint, but the female is gray and inconspicuous. They have a long, sharp tail and red eyes. Ornithologists tend to believe that black waxwings should be considered a separate species.

Nesting and breeding

Strictly monogamous waxwings can not be called. Crashing into spring in pairs, they choose last year’s partner, but not always.

The nest is built on a conifer not very high from the ground. Dry grass, twigs, needles - from this build a nest, the bottom is lined with scraps of wool and moss.

The female lays up to 5 small bluish eggs, does not leave the nest during incubation, the male carries the food. After a couple of weeks, when the chicks hatched, both parents fly for food to themselves and toddlers. After another 15 days, the chicks become independent.

Power Features waxwings

Eat both small insects, and berries, fruits. Food preferences waxwings vary depending on age and time of year. Nestlings are fed by insects, catching them right on the fly.

Food is butterflies, dragonflies, mosquitoes, midges. From vegetable food in summer, waxwings can find mulberry and mistletoe. Closer to autumn, the waxwings gladly peck apples, wild or those that are not collected in the gardens.

With the onset of cold, when the waxwings are already flying for the winter, they switch to berries: they eat Kalina, mountain ash, lingonberries and cranberries, juniper. If a berry picked by a bird has fallen to the ground, then the waxwing will never fly down for her.

The soil under a tree or shrub covered with berries is a sign that the waxwigs were feasting there.

A bad omen is considered if the waxwing beats hysterically through a window or door, sometimes dies. The explanation for this is simple: they peck and fermented berries, from which they lose their orientation.

These unscrupulous birds are excellent seed distributors. Peck berries eagerly and a lot, without damaging the seeds, their stomach does not fully digest as much food. While flying to new places in search of food, waxwings spread the seeds over long distances.

Singing waxwings, her enemies in the wild, domestication

The sounds that the waxwing publishes are very different: melodious tinkling like a bell, whistling and chirping, a shout in high tones.

The origin of the name of the bird - from the Old Russian "puffy" (whistle loudly). Another version - from the word "pipe", they often sing like this instrument.

Their main enemies are birds of prey: owls, hawks, ravens. Squirrels and martens are infested with waxwings; they destroy nests and eat eggs and chicks.

It is easy to keep the waxwing in a cage, but if you settle it alone, it will become sedentary and almost will not sing. The best conditions for them in captivity - a large aviary with a few birds.
Watch the video about what they are, these waxwings.

Crested tribe

On our planet there are many birds, including crested. Depending on the climatic zones and weather conditions prevailing in different parts of the Earth, these birds choose a comfortable environment for themselves. They are distinguished by lifestyle, diet, personality traits, behaviors and body size. Conditionally combines all these birds amusing tuft, painted on the head.

Crested birds include:

  • waxwing
  • common lark,
  • Remeza oatmeal,
  • hoopoe,
  • spiky holed woodpecker
  • peacock
  • goatsina,
  • chomgu,
  • cockatoo,
  • Northern Cardinal,
  • secretary bird
  • jay and others.

Many of these crested birds are found in abundance in the open spaces of our homeland. Others are of exotic origin and live in hot tropics.

Winter bird waxwing

Waxwings are small but very spectacular birds living in Russian forests. The weight of an adult individual is up to 70 grams, and the body length is no more than 18 cm. Bright red spots contrast against the background of the grayish-brown plumage of the body. The wings and tail of the birds are black with bright yellow and white patches.

Waxwing occurs in the suburbs, Siberia, Crimea, as well as in the Caucasus and Central Asia. She is not afraid of the cold, so she feels comfortable even in the northern regions of the country, the taiga and the forest tundra.

The bird eats the fruits of mountain ash, wild rose, tree sap, from which it sometimes gets drunk. This happens if she eats fermented berries or nectar. The subsequent inadequate behavior of the waxwing in this state threatens the manifestation of aggressiveness, injury to other birds, and the risk of falling into the hands of local predators: martens, squirrels, owls, and hawks.

Field chibis

One more crested which lives in Russia, and also Persia, India, China. It has a bright, colorful feathering and differs from other field birds with a relatively large size. An adult bird weighs from 110 to 330 grams, and its body length is up to 30 cm. Black and white feathers of a chibis shimmer very beautifully in the sun and have a metallic sheen.

As a habitat, the pine-tree chooses open areas: meadows, steppes, fields where potatoes grow, and sparse forests. It is important that the terrain is characterized by a high degree of humidity, and there is a reservoir nearby.

As a food, this bird with a tuft chooses insects and small invertebrates.

Chibis create one pair for life, build their nests on the surface of the earth. One clutch does not contain more than four eggs at a time.

Crested lark

This bird with a tuft is distinguished by its modest size: its weight is up to 45 grams, and the length of the calf does not exceed 19 cm. The lark is characterized by a gray-brown color. Outside homeliness contributes to good masking in dry grass, leaves and branches and on the ground. Tuft on the lark's head is small.

The favorite habitats of the larks are roadsides, sand pits, rare forests, as well as railway embankments. The little bird feeds on insects and cereals. Therefore, during the autumn, flocks of larks move to warm lands: Korea, Africa, Kenya, Arabia, to the south-west of Europe.

After mating, up to five eggs of light yellow or beige color appear in the nest of larks. The female incubates the offspring for two weeks. 10 days after the birth, the chicks are ready for independent adult life.

Oatmeal Remez

This bird with a tuft on its head is rather small. She weighs only 20 grams, and the length of her calf is 15 cm. Outwardly it is very similar to an ordinary sparrow. It is distinguished from its congener by plumage, painted in gray-beige tones with white and red stripes. Males tuft is slightly larger than females. Oatmeal habitat is a marshland, near which there is a drinking water reservoir, as well as open spaces where shrubs grow.

Remez oatmeal feeds primarily on insects and cereals. When they disappear, these birds set off to winter in East Asia.

Oatmeal builds its nests directly on the ground. For masking birds use indentations or bushes.

Forest and waterfowl crested

Common birds that inhabit forests and swampy areas are the sharp-crested woodpecker, jay, hoopoe, goatsin and chomga.

The woodpecker, as it is known, is a forest health officer. Its specific structure of the head and a kind of long beak are created in order to simply and effectively extract parasites from under the bark of a tree. As for the appearance, the bird looks very colorful and bright. A long tuft is the hallmark of the feathered.

A small jay is also the owner of a tuft under the color of beige-brown or blue-black plumage. There are black and black and white headwear. The inhabitant of deciduous and handicraft forests loves to eat bugs, lizards, small rodents, frogs. A strong beak curved at the end helps to get food to the bird.

Hoopoe - another bright representative of the world of forest birds. His crest is expressed very brightly, as well as other signs of this bird breed. The plumage of the bird on the back, chest and abdomen beige. Contrasting white and black stripes in the area of ​​the wings and tail look very impressive.

Crested Chomga and Goatsin prefer reservoirs and swamps as habitats. Goatzin is a tropical heat-loving bird. As for chomgi, she lives in the territory of the Old World.

Exotic with tufted

The feathered inhabitants of distant hot countries tend to look very elegant and bright. The crest, along with the variegated plumage, is one of the characteristic colors of these birds.

The number of overseas birds, which "coronated" nature itself, includes:

  • cockatoo, with a huge tuft resembling a mohawk,
  • the secretary bird (sagittarius serpentarius), which has a graceful constitution, long paws, tuft, wings and tail,
  • peacock, including the rare white variety,
  • northern cardinal with bright red feathers.

This list would be incomplete without the most exquisite tropical birds. We are talking about the mythical birds of paradise. This category includes 45 varieties. Most of them live in New Guinea. Of this exotic variety, a six-pointed crested paradise bird is distinguished. On her head there are six bright feathers resembling a crown. Their size is disproportionately large compared with the length of the body, which looks very unusual.

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