Bird of the Month - Waxwing

Bohemian WaxwingBombycilla garrulus (the one we usually see)
Japanese WaxwingBombycilla japonica
Cedar WaxwingBombycilla cedrorum

Waxwings are characterised by soft silky plumage. They have unique red tips to some of the wing feathers where the shafts extend beyond the barbs; in the Bohemian and cedar waxwings, these tips look like sealing wax, and give the group its common name. The legs are short and strong, and the wings are pointed. The male and female have very similar plumage.

All three species have mainly brown plumage, a black line through the eye and black under the chin, a square-ended tail with a red or yellow tip, and a pointed crest. The bill, eyes, and feet are dark. Calls are high-pitched, buzzing or trilling monosyllables

These are arboreal birds that breed in northern forests. (This for me is a fascinating bit of study)
Their main food is fruit, which they eat from early summer (strawberries, mulberries, and serviceberries) through late summer and autumn (raspberries, blackberries, cherries, and honeysuckle berries) into winter (juniper berries, grapes, crab apples, mountain ash fruits, rose hips, cotoneaster fruits, dogwood berries, and mistletoe berries)
They pluck fruit from a perch or occasionally while hovering.
In spring they replace fruit with sap, buds, and flowers. In the warmer part of the year they catch many insects by gleaning or in mid-air, and often nest near water where flying insects are abundant.

They are not true long-distance migrants, but wander erratically outside the breeding season and move south from their summer range in winter.
In poor berry year’s huge numbers can erupt well beyond their normal range, often in flocks that on occasion number in the thousands
The last time I managed to take pictures of this stunning bird was 1st January 2013 at Howe Bridge crematorium, Atherton. Examples below.

Text references from the internet, Collins Bird Guide, and The Birds of the Western Palearctic published by Oxford.

Poem by Velimir Khlebnikov
Where The Waxwings Used To Dwell
Where the waxwings used to dwell,
Where the pine trees softly swayed,
A flock of airy momentwills
Flew around and flew away.
Where the pine trees softly whooshed
Where the warblewings sang out
A flock of airy momentwills
Flew around and flew about.
In wild and shadowy disarray
Among the ghosts of bygone days,
Wheeled and tintinnabulated.
A flock of airy momentwills
A flock of airy momentwills!
You're warblewingish and beguilish,
You besot my soul like strumming,
Like a wave invade my heart!
Go on, ringing warblewings,

Long live airy momentwills!

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