The Cedar Waxwing is a common winter resident throughout the Bay Area. It favors berries and other fruits as a food source and will often visit backyards planted with toyon and elderberry, as well exotic fruit bearing trees and shrubs. Waxwings can also be seen catching insects in mid-air.
Cedar Waxwings usually begin arriving in the Bay Area in September and remain until April. At this time most of them leave the state to breed but some remain in Northwestern California.
In the fall and winter waxwings flocks can be seen in Corona Heights in fruiting Myoporum trees near the dog park and in blooming eucalyptus trees in the Randall Museum parking lot.
They can be recognized from a distance by their tendency to fly in tight flocks and their high-pitched “zeee” calls. Their name “waxwing” is derived from the waxy red tips on the secondary feathers in adult birds. No other group of birds has these red tips, and their purpose is still a mystery to ornithologists.
The Cedar Waxwing inside the Animal Exhibit songbird aviary is unable to sustain flight due to a wing injury. One of the most common ways this occurs is when the birds hit windows. Putting decals on your windows is an easy way to reduce “window-strikes.”