2 February 2011


So there I was standing in the kitchen of our son's terraced house. Something caught my eye outside in his little urban garden. It was a bird, a beautiful bird and it had paid a visit simply to gobble a couple of rosehip berries from the bushes near the garden wall. I observed it for perhaps ten seconds and then it was gone. I may have seen such birds before without really noticing them but I have never seen one in our own much larger garden.

This morning I visited the RSPB website and checked through their "bird identifier". After a while, I found my beautiful feathered friend. A waxwing! Like the fieldfare, another winter visitor to Britain, escaping from the cold of more northerly climes. It seems they are rarely seen around Sheffield - mainly sticking to the east coast - but my waxwing seemed happy enough gorging himself by the garden wall. You can't help but feel a little envious of creatures like that - living freely despite man's best efforts to unhinge the natural order of things.

This is what the RSPB had to say about the waxwing:-

The waxwing is a plump bird, which is slightly smaller than a starling. It has a prominent crest. It is reddish-brown with a black throat, a small black mask round its eye, yellow and white in the wings and a yellow-tipped tail. It does not breed in the UK, but is a winter visitor, in some years in larger numbers, called irruptions, when the population on its breeding grounds gets too big for the food available.

Where to see them

The first British arrivals each winter are usually seen on the east coast from Scotland to East Anglia, but birds move inland in search of food, increasing the chances of seeing one inland.

When to see them

October to March.

What they eat

Berries, particularly rowan and hawthorn, but also cotoneaster and rose.


  1. How lovely! None over here, unfortunately.

  2. Wow! What a beautiful, majestic creature, Mr. YP. I never even heard of a Waxwing before.

  3. You only saw one? Our Cedar Waxwings come through in flocks of maybe 24 this time of year. They're a noisy bunch, not just gobbling berries but having a great time in the process. When they see me, they hush and just sit in the tree quietly until I leave, then they go back to their business. I wish they stayed around longer. Your Waxwing, I think, is fancier.

  4. I'm in Lancashire and I looked out of the kitchen window this morning to see a flock of maybe a couple of dozen or so beautiful birds that I had never seen before. They were feasting on the berries on the Cottoneaster bushes at the bottom of the garden.

    I was struck by their exotic appearance, especially the crest on the head, and I also noticed a flash of red on the wings. Like you, I immediately went to the RSPB site to try to identify them and discovered they were Waxwings. A search for more information led me to your blog.

    They swoop down, feed in a frenzy for a few seconds on the rich ripe berries, then quickly fly off again. They've visited a few times already today. I hope they stay around for a while.

  5. Just spotted 6 Waxwings in our back garden eatting berries...major surprise as we live in Burton on Trent in the Midlands ...really wondrful to watch them

  6. Saw 17 Waxwings in a chattering flock 9am last Friday, 7th Dec, Bootle Liverpool. I've never seen them before over here in 35 years. Amazed.


  8. Just Seen Waxwing in Back Garden. The 1st i have ever seen in my area (Micklefield Nr Leeds). Such a beautiful Bird wish they stopped over here all year round.

  9. Thinking like a search engine ~ plump + bird + black + mask = hits


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