Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bohemian Waxwing

(18 cm.) Silky brown-grey plumage; black mask; head crest; waxy white, yellow and red “droplets” on wings

The Bohemian Waxwing is a bird of exquisite beauty that is unfortunately an uncommon bird in China. Due to their uncommon status, beholding one is all the more exciting. Two species of waxwing can be found in China, this species and the similarly uncommon Japanese Waxwing. Both species are beautiful crested birds with black masks and uniformly brown-grey plumage.

The Bohemian Waxwing is easily distinguished from the Japanese Waxwing by its yellow, not red tip of the tail, and more colorful, wax-like decorations on its wings. All three waxwing species in the world, these two species and the Cedar Waxwing of North America are named for the wax-like adornments on the birds’ wings. All have soft silky-looking feathers.

The Bohemian Waxwing is the only waxwing found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Its name, “bohemian”, means “wanderer”, a reference to its wide range. In China, the Bohemian Waxwing is an irregular breeding bird of Heilongjiang’s Hinggan Mountains. It will not be found elsewhere in China in summer. In winter, it is a regular, but not completely reliable visitor to “dongbei” and the Liaoning, Shandong, Hubei, Jiangsu region.

The Bohemian Waxwing’s gentle nature is befitting of its aesthetic beauty. It is primarily a consumer of berries, and berry shortages in northern latitudes influence its irregular  winter wanderings. In addition to berries, the Bohemian Waxwing will eat insects in the breeding season.

The Bohemian Waxwing usually nest high in a pine tree, but it will choose other nesting locations depending on the availability of food supplies. Mated pairs of this species often have more than one nest in a particular area. Usually 4-6 eggs are laid by the female in a nest lined with moss, grass and down. Young Bohemian Waxwings develop quickly and are independent about one month after hatching.

Bohemian Waxwing (Photo by Andreas Trepte)

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