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Songbirds of North Dakota


Family Bombycillidae

Bombycillidae is a combined Latin and Greek word meaning "silky tailed". Waxwings are mostly tree-dwelling birds which generally live in coniferous, birch, and mixed woodland forests. They eat many kinds of berries and small fruit, but will also feed upon insects, flower petals, and flowing sap. Waxwings will often gorge themselves on berries to the point that they are unable to fly. One can expect to see the cedar waxwing year round and the Bohemian waxwing during the winter.

Cedar Waxwing
Bombycilla cedrorum

JPG -- Picture and Range Map of Species

Cedar waxwings are fruit eaters and their social feeding habits are influenced by this fact. They are often seen feeding in small flocks on the berries of cedar trees, mountain ash, and flowering crabapple. Waxwings will often gorge themselves on berries until they are unable to fly and will often become "drunk" on overripe berries.

The term waxwing is derived from the red waxy deposits on the tips of their secondary wing feathers. All waxwings have sleek crests atop their head, silky plumage, black eye "masks", and yellow-tipped tails. Waxwings often build their nests in pine trees. The nest is constructed of material such as wool, moss, hair, and lichens. The breeding season occurs from June through September and eggs are blue-gray with small black dots.

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