10 Ideas for How to Attract Cedar Waxwings

Learning how to attract Cedar waxwings may seem daunting, but we are here to help. These friendly birds are known for their love of fruit and can often be seen in flocks foraging for cedar berries. Attracting cedar waxwings to your garden involves providing a habitat that meets their needs and understanding their behavior.

To draw these cute birds to your area, you need to offer an abundant supply of their favorite foods. Planting native shrubs and trees that produce small fruits, such as serviceberry, juniper, cedar berry, and dogwood, can naturally attract waxwings.

How to Attract Cedar Waxwings

Critical Takeaways for Attracting Cedar Waxwings

  • Plant berry-producing vegetation to provide a natural food source for waxwings.
  • Create a safe habitat with shelter, a platform feeder, and water to encourage visits from flocks.
  • Understand and cater to the behaviors and preferences of cedar waxwings to attract them.

Understanding Cedar Waxwings is the First Step to Attracting Them

If you’re interested in these sleek birds, you’ll want to learn about their distinct features and habits. Here is what you need to know if you want to attract the Cedar Waxwing to your yard.

Physical Characteristics: First Let’s Learn What They Look Like!

Cedar Waxwings - Up Close

How to attract Cedar waxwings, first involves getting to know them! Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) exhibit distinctive markings. They sport a shiny, black mask lining their eyes, which gives them a unique look. These birds are about the size of a robin, and you may even find them hanging out together in the winter months. 

Their silky plumage blends browngray, and yellow hues, while their tail tips are a bright yellow. However, some cedar waxwings will have an orange tip on the tail instead of a yellow due to the orange berries they were eating as juveniles. 

You’ll also see unique red spots resembling sealing wax drops on their wings, earning them their name. These medium-sized birds transition smoothly from a tan head to a brownish-grey body.

Behavioral Traits of Cedar Waxwing

cedar waxwing behavior - they share food

In your backyard, you might spot Cedar Waxwings moving in large flocks. They have a nomadic lifestyle, which means they roam across large areas instead of having a fixed territory. Waxwings are known for their social feeding behavior, where they share berries directly beak-to-beak with each other, a sight unique among bird species. 

Diet and Feeding Habits of Cedar Waxwing

diet of Cedar Waxwing

The diet of Cedar Waxwings is primarily composed of fruits such as juniper berriesserviceberriesmulberries, holly berries, and crabapples. They will also occasionally eat off of some non-native trees like Russian olive fruits. 

During the breeding season, or months when there is less fruit, they will also eat insects like mayflies, dragonfliesmealworms, scale insects, antsbeetles, and caterpillars

Plant fruit-bearing trees such as dogwoodeastern red cedar, hawthorn, and winterberry to attract cedar waxwings, or leave out sliced apples and strawberries in your backyard.

If you want to know how to attract other songbirds, we have an entire guide!

Habitat Preferences of Cedar Waxwing

habitat of cedar waxwing

Cedar Waxwings favor habitats with abundant fruit trees, which typically include forest edges near streams or riversdeciduous and evergreen woodlands, and urban areas. So as long as there are berries they can turn anyplace into a suitable habitat.

They’re comfortable both in your backyard and the wilderness, making attracting them rather convenient if you know which resources to offer. (Like any berry-producing trees)

Reproduction and Nesting of Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwing nest

During the breeding season, Cedar Waxwings build nests out of twigs and other materials they find in their environment. They prefer to nest in trees or shrubs and often have two yearly broods. The eggs are pale blue and spotted, and both parents feed the young.

Migration Patterns – Flocks of Cedar Waxwings

flocks of cedar waxwings

As migratory birds, Cedar Waxwings may travel in large flocks to different parts of North America, depending on the season.

They breed in the northern part of their range, which includes Canada and the United States, and then move towards the south in winter. Their travel routes can be pretty flexible, making their migration patterns somewhat unpredictable.

10 Ideas for How to Attract Cedar Waxwings

If you want to attract these birds with the striking black mask, your garden should include elements that cater to their specific needs, such as berry-filled trees and amenities for feeding and nesting.

Plus, consider the winter months if you live in the northern end of their migratory range. Attracting cedar waxwings is not about creating short-term lures but instead creating a haven in your yard that focuses on food availability and abundant fruit.

Planting the Right Flora

Fruit-bearing trees and berry bushes are essential to attract Cedar Waxwings. Plant dogwoodhawthorn, juniper, holly, serviceberrycherry, and mountain ash to provide a steady food source. Shrubs like junipershoneysuckle, and elderberry will also allure these birds.

Providing Water Sources

Cedar Waxwings are fond of water, so a bird bath or a small water feature, like a fountain, is a great attraction. Learn some of our tips and tricks for how to attract birds to a birdbath. If you have space, consider adding a stream or creating a pond to mimic their natural habitat.

Designing Your Garden with Evergreens for Waxwings

Design your garden with Cedar Waxwings in mind. Include trees and shrubs that offer both food and shelter. Create a hedge or plant evergreens to protect these birds from predators.

Create a Berry Buffet for the Winter Months

Incorporate various berry-producing plants that bear fruit at different times of the year to provide a consistent food source. The northern half of the US has many year-round residents, so you want to provide food for these beautiful birds if you are trying to attract them to your yard. 

If you have mulberries in the summer, you’ll want to ensure you have some winterberry, northern bayberry, and chokeberry for the winter waxwings. Creating a winter berry garden will also help if you’re trying to keep robins around in the winter

Pay attention to the time of year your yard has more or less berries. You can plant more winter berries to promote year-round visits from your favorite birds. 

Open Perching Spaces

Include open areas with high perches, such as tall trees or structures where waxwings can survey the area and gather in flocks. You can place some of these open perching spaces on tall trees or balconies. Attracting cedar waxwings takes time because you need them to notice your yard as a bountiful place for food. 

Supplemental Feeding and Feeders

During seasons when natural food might be scarce, provide supplemental feeding. Set up a tray feeder with various fruit and berries and freeze-dried berries. Cedar waxwings do not eat suet, so instead, offer them a variety of berries on a platform feeder to give them an extra energy source.

Offering Nesting Materials and Support

Cedar Waxwings look for nesting materials and locations that provide safety. Leave out twigsgrass clippings, and small pieces of fabric to help them build nests. Providing shelter for cedar waxwing nests in the form of dense shrubs or trees will encourage them to nest in your backyard.

Offer a Bird House

Cedar waxwings will only use a birdhouse if it’s near dense shrubs or vegetation. If you place the bird house on the side of a tree in an open area, the waxwings are not likely to use them.

However, if you put some thought into placement and pick the part of your yard closest to other shrubs and berry-producing trees, the female cedar waxwing may set up a nest.

Layered Planting

Design your garden with a mix of tall trees, medium-sized shrubs, and ground covers to mimic their natural habitat and provide shelter.

Leave Fruit on Trees

The best way to attract a flock of cedar waxwings is to allow the fruit to remain on trees and shrubs during fall and winter, as Cedar Waxwings are late-season foragers.

Common Challenges and Solutions

When attracting cedar waxwings to your garden or backyard, it’s essential to be aware of and mitigate potential hazards and manage bird populations and health effectively. Here are some strategies for addressing these issues:

Protecting the Birds from Hazards

Creating a safe haven for cedar waxwings means minimizing dangers in their environment. Here’s how you can do so:

  • Windows: Birds often collide with windows because they don’t perceive them as barriers. Prevent this by:
    • Placing decals on windows to make them more visible to birds.
    • Installing screens or breaking up reflections with curtains or blinds.

  • Predators: To safeguard waxwings from predators, consider these steps:
    • Keep your cats indoors or create a catio to prevent hunting.
    • Provide dense shrubbery for shelter so birds can hide and escape.

  • Shelter: Offering a safe place to rest is crucial. Here’s what you can do:
    • Plant native bird friendly trees and shrubs that provide natural protection.
    • Install birdhouses designed for waxwings with appropriate entrance hole sizes.

Managing Bird Populations and Health

Ensuring the well-being of cedar waxwing flocks entails the following:

  • Feeding: Proper feeding practices can keep waxwings returning and healthy. Remember:
    • Offer native berry-producing plants in your garden to provide natural food sources.
    • Avoid pesticides and herbicides that can harm the waxwings and their food supply.

  • Health and Disease: To help prevent the spread of disease within bird populations:
    • Regularly clean feeding stations and bird baths to reduce disease transmission.
    • Observe visiting flocks for signs of illness and contact a wildlife expert if needed.

Supporting Waxwing Populations Beyond Your Garden

Cedar waxwings are a valuable part of North American ecosystems. Your actions can help these birds not just in your garden but also in the larger environment. Did you know that they can help control outbreaks of the devastating spruce budworm

Conservation and Local Ecosystems

To support waxwing populations, you can contribute to regional conservation efforts. Participate in local park cleanups and support habitat preservation—both actions are crucial.

Parks and protected areas in urban and rural settings offer vital havens for wildlife, including cedar waxwings. Keeping these areas clean and undisturbed helps maintain the natural spaces these birds rely on for breeding and feeding.

Create or join a conservation group aimed at safeguarding these ecosystems. Through these groups, you can work on planting native trees and shrubs, like berry-producing plants that waxwings love. Such efforts enrich habitats not just for waxwings but for various wildlife.

Educational Awareness and Community Involvement

Educating yourself and others about the importance of cedar waxwings amplifies the impact of conservation work. Attend workshops or programs at local nature centers or museums, and encourage others to join you in learning about these birds and their role in the environment. Share this newfound knowledge to grow community awareness.

Start or partake in community science initiatives. These involve monitoring cedar waxwing populations or tracking their migration patterns. Such data collection is valuable to researchers and can inform better conservation strategies.

Furthermore, advocate for bird-friendly practices in your community—approach schools, businesses, and neighborhood councils to discuss how they can contribute. Tactics can include installing bird-proof windows to reduce collisions or preserving local fruit-bearing trees.

Your active role in these areas nurtures an environment where cedar waxwings—and countless other species—can thrive.

Are Bohemian Waxwings the Same as Cedar Waxwings?

Bohemian Waxwings and Cedar Waxwings are not the same but closely related species within the same genus, Bombycilla. Both species are known for their sleek appearance, distinctive crest, and colorful wing tips, but there are several differences between them:

Size and Shape: Bohemian Waxwings are generally larger and more robust than the more delicate Cedar Waxwings.

Coloration: Both species have a similar overall color scheme of brown, gray, and yellow, but Bohemian Waxwings typically have richer, rustier under-tail colors and more extensive yellow and white in the wings. Cedar Waxwings have a more pronounced yellow belly and a bright yellow tail tip, whereas Bohemian Waxwings have a yellow or reddish tail tip depending on their diet.

Habitat: You’ll find Cedar Waxwings across North America, especially in the United States and southern Canada. They prefer open wooded areas, gardens, and orchards.

On the other hand, Bohemian Waxwings are more northern in their distribution, breeding in the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska and wintering in the north of the United States and Canada. You’ll find them in flocks in open and wooded areas, especially with abundant berries.

What are Japanese Waxwings?

Japanese Waxwings (Bombycilla japonica) are a bird species in the waxwing family, including the more widely known Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings. They share many characteristics with their relatives, such as a sleek appearance, a prominent crest on their head, and colorful, waxy tips on their wing feathers. 

The Japanese waxwings are primarily found in East Asia, including parts of Russia, China, Japan, and the Korean Peninsula. Their range is more localized than the more widespread Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings.

Ending Notes on Attracting Cedar Waxwings

When aiming to attract Cedar Waxwings to your yard, think of creating a welcoming habitat. They have a particular fondness for berry bushes. Plant a variety that ripens at different times to provide a consistent food source. For instance:

  • Early season: Serviceberry
  • Midseason: Juneberry
  • Late season: Winterberry

Ensuring a supply of fruit throughout the season will make your yard a regular stop for these birds.

Water sources are equally attractive to Cedar Waxwings. A birdbath or a shallow fountain can provide the freshwater they require for drinking and bathing. To enhance the appeal, make sure the water is clean and accessible.

Incorporate a mix of trees and shrubs for them to perch and nest in. Cedar Waxwings are social birds; they appreciate spaces where they can gather in flocks. Native plants like dogwood or cedar can provide both nourishment and shelter.

Remember, attracting Cedar Waxwings is more about creating an inviting environment rather than temporary lures. Your patience and effort in building a bird-friendly habitat will be rewarded with the delightful presence of these elegant birds.