These Bohemian waxwings drift down from Canada most every winter. Last week they arrived in Vermont. Their tawny flanks display the sweeping cast shadows of crabapples and their willowy stems. The late afternoon is cold, but the low, golden winter light warms what it can touch.
It’s likely that you know their cousins, the cedar waxwings because they are with us most of the year. The cedar’s behavior is similar, traveling in large hungry groups and camping out on whatever fruit they can find—blueberries in the summer orchard or dried, fermented crab apples in the winter. The best way to tell a Bohemian from a cedar is the Bohemian's burnt sienna tail feathers, and a few white rectangles on their wings. They also have a peachy orange blush on the face which the cedar waxwing lacks.
The Bohemian calls are much like the cedar, a high, buzzy trill. Unfortunately, their numbers have declined by 55% in North America since 1970—rated as a steep decline. So get out there and have a look. Searching the species map on e-bird will help you locate a flock near you during this all-too-brief season. Be sure to set the date range for this year.
Bohemian pair is a 12 x 12 inch acrylic painted on a wood panel.