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. The legs are short and strong, and the wings are pointed. The male and female have the same 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.

Habitat and Distribution

The Waxwings are not true long-distance migrants, but wander erratically outside the breeding season and move south from their summer range in winter.


Their main food is fruit, particularly berries. For each season there are different berries eaten. They pluck fruit from a perch. In spring they replace fruit with sap, buds, and flowers. In the warmer part of the year they catch insects by gleaning.


Waxwings nest in places with rich supplies of fruit. They breed late in the year to take advantage of summer ripening. Both birds gather nest materials, but the female does most of the construction, usually on a horizontal limb or in a crotch at any height. She makes a loose, bulky nest of twigs, grass, and lichen, which she lines with fine grass, moss, and pine needles and may camouflage with pieces of grass, flowers, lichen, and moss. The female incubates. The male feeds the chicks.

Calls and Songs

Their calls are high-pitched, buzzing or trilling monosyllables.