Bohemian-Waxwing-Cornell-Ca.jpg (76359 bytes)Bohemian Waxwing, Bombycilla garrulus, Tompkins Co., winter and spring 2002.

All pictures were taken by my son Jay and me and are Kevin J. McGowan.  They were taken with an Olympus D-450 digital camera through a Swarovski HD-80 spotting scope.

We had two opportunities this year to photograph Bohemian Waxwings, first on a "typical" winter day in a snowstorm in January.  We posted those pictures the same day.  They were undoubtedly of Bohemians, but they suffered from the weather conditions.  The second opportunity came on 5 April, when the weather and the birds were a bit more cooperative.  I have left the original photos on the page, and if you want to skip to the better shots, click here.  I think the blurry ones have merit, however, as they can assist you in learning the more general shape and less definitive characters.  Bad photos of good birds can actually be more useful for learning to identify birds in the field than incredibly detailed, sharp ones (IMHO).


Dryden, 21 January 2002Bohemian Waxwing Dryden 21Jan02 685a.jpg (285673 bytes)


Susan and Steve Fast found a single Bohemian Waxwing in with a flock of more than 100 Cedar Waxwings (I counted 136) in a flock along Keith Lane, south of Dryden.  We found the flock in the same yard where the Pine Grosbeaks have been hanging out, at the corner of Keith and Kimberly.  (About 2 miles south of Dryden; Keith Lane goes to the east and intersects with Kimberly Drive from the north; 1st left coming from Dryden after you hit the 55mph zone.)  We managed to get a few shots in very bad light, and I left Jay there hoping to get better pictures that I can post later.  The waxwings fed in the crab apple trees, but spent most of the time perched in a bare maple with the Pine Grosbeaks.

The light was terrible and everything was coming out very backlit, so all these images have had the levels adjusted with Photoshop.

Bohemian Waxwing Dryden 21Jan02 679a.jpg (76787 bytes) Bohemian Waxwing Dryden 21Jan02 684a.jpg (141693 bytes)

Note the red undertail coverts that distinguish it from a Cedar Waxwing and the white on the wings.  Jay noticed the difference in mask appearance too, and the Bohemian did not have the white outline seen in Cedars.

In direct comparison with the Cedar Waxwings the Bohemian was darker and slightly larger.  The easiest feature to pick it out was the darker chest down to the belly.   The Cedars all showed a white belly and much yellow (although that varied with individual Cedar Waxwings).  The dark red undertail was not all that obvious, and in fact seemed to help make it blend into the background, oddly enough.  The difference in shape (Bohemian less slender and more rounded, or puffed up) and coloring can be seen in these shots of the two species together.

Bohemian Waxwing Dryden 21Jan02 639a.jpg (176448 bytes)

Bohemian Waxwing and Cedar Waxwing Dryden 21Jan02 640a.jpg (220421 bytes) 


Cornell Campus, Ithaca, NY, 5 April 2002.

Bohemians-and-Cedar-Waxwing.jpg (101724 bytes)

The difference in size, chest color, and shape is apparent from this shot of both Bohemian and Cedar waxwings in the same tree.


Bohemian-Waxwing-Cornell-2a.jpg (73379 bytes)

The very long red undertail coverts can be seen well here (as in the title photo, above, from the same date), along with the white markings on the wings.  This shot also shows the long fluffy crest.

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Revised: April 06, 2005.