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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote® Bohemian Waxwings

Air Date: Week of

Some birds fly south for the winter in search of warmer climes. But Bohemian waxwings are nomads who don’t seem to mind the cold. As Mary McCann reports, the birds seek fruit from frozen orchards to sustain them.



GELLERMAN: Some birds migrate to warmer climes during the winter, but others are more nomadic and fly wherever they can find the best food. One of those is the Bohemian Waxwing - as BirdNote®’s Mary McCann reports.


MCCANN: A light dusting of snow whitens the hillsides along the Columbia River, a quiet backdrop to scores of apple orchards. Most of the fruit was harvested in autumn, but apples litter the ground, and a few still hang, frozen and thawed again and again. Suddenly a flock of hundreds of birds rises from the ground beneath the apple trees, swarming in tight formation, wing-tip to wing-tip.


MCCANN: The flock lifts and perches in orderly ranks, in the top of a nearby poplar.

Photo: © Nick Saunders


MCCANN: These are Bohemian Waxwings, occasional visitors during the winter, down from their nesting grounds in the boreal forests of the north. They’re nomads, come in search of fruit to sustain their winter wanderings.

Bohemian Waxwings, larger kin of Cedar Waxwings, are exquisite, with silken-plumage, a jaunty crest, black mask, and wings daubed as if with sealing wax in red, yellow, white, and black. Add to this a tail dipped in yellow, and you have a bird that seems to have sprung from a painter’s palette. Quickly the flock is off again -


MCCANN: - swirling up the canyon to adorn the winter branches of another orchard.


GELLERMAN: That’s BirdNote®’s Mary McCann. To see some fab photos of Bohemian Waxwings, feast your eyes on our website LOE dot org.



Call of the Bohemian Waxwing provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, recorded by W.W.H. Gunn.

BirdNote® Bohemian Waxwing was written by Bob Sundstrom.


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