Bohemian waxwing

Bombycilla garrulus

SUBFAMILY

Bombycillinae

TAXONOMY

Bombycilla garrulus Linnaeus, 1758. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Waxwing; French: Jaseur boréal; German: Seidenschwanz; Spanish: Ampelis Europeo.

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Bombycilla garrulus

H Resident H Breeding | Nonbreeding

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

6.7-8.3 in (17-21 cm), wingspan: 14.5 in (37 cm), 2 oz (56 g). Larger and slightly shorter-tailed than the cedar waxwing, appears small-headed and round-bodied. Sleek, crested bird, overall plumage grayish with rusty tinge on forehead and cheeks. Black eye-mask and chin patch, white edge between eye-patch and chin, little to no white on forehead. Undertail rust colored. Yellow band on terminal end of tail, yellow and white bands on wing. Characteristic red wax droplets on some secondaries of many adults. Juvenile resembles adult, but lacks wax droplets and rust coloring on head.

DISTRIBUTION

Holarctic, northern Eurasia, to northeast and north-central China, northwest and north-central North America.

HABITAT

Old stands of coniferous trees, with open canopy and rich field layer.

BEHAVIOR

Very social species, flocking throughout year. Characteristic silvery buzzing sirr of flock call. Nomadic and irruptive; occasionally large flocks invade Europe and the United States, presumably due to fruit shortages in northern regions. Non-territorial, but may show aggressive behavior near nest.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Diet mainly sugary, fleshy fruits, especially rose-hips (Rosa spp.) and mountain-ash berries (Sorbus spp.); also insects in spring and summer. Birds may gorge themselves until they can hardly fly.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. Late breeder, from early June through August. Lays four to six pale bluish gray eggs spotted with black in wo ven cup-like nest. Female incubates, 12-15 days. Young hatch naked and blind; both parents feed nestlings; fledging 14-17 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Widespread but can be intermittent, numbers of breeding pairs may vary considerably from year to year.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Has been considered a pest in some areas during irregular mass-invasions in Europe. ♦

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