With their glossy plumage, black-masked eyes, and perky crests, cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) are some of the most beautiful birds that will visit your backyard.
Here are the best ways to attract them to your property!
1. Plant Berry Bushes For Cedar Waxwings
Cedar waxwings love fruit. About 80% of their diet is made up of various berries, including American holly, juniper, elderberry, mountain ash, honeysuckle, and serviceberry.
When planning what to plant in your yard, aim for a mix of bushes and vines that will produce berries over as much of the year as possible.
For instance, haskaps are one of the first berry bushes to produce fruit in May, while wild cherries will have mature berries in mid-autumn. In between, there’s a whole host of different berries that will keep your cedar waxwing visitors well-fed all season long.
In fact, your biggest problem will be keeping these voracious eaters away from fruit that you want to keep for yourself! You may have to construct netted enclosures to keep them out of your raspberry or strawberry patches.
In addition, because cedar waxwings will often hang around all winter in the northern United States and southern Canada, planting bushes that keep their berries through the cold weather will provide them with a valuable food source in the winter months.
Hawthorn, juniper, American holly, and serviceberry are all good choices.
2. Stock Your Feeders With Fruit
However, if your berry bushes get stripped of fruit by cedar waxwings, you can always attract them to feeders with a selection of their favorite foods.
While seeds and suet will leave them cold, cranberries, raisins, and cut-up apples will all be appreciated. They’ll also enjoy some mealworms to add protein to their diet.
The type of feeder matters as well. Cedar waxwings prefer a platform-style feeder with the food spread out in the open.
If you do decide to feed birds in winter, it’s important to be consistent. If your local bird population gets accustomed to a steady supply of food, you can’t suddenly stop.
Empty feeders might mean dead birds, especially if a winter storm hits, or there’s a prolonged period of severe cold weather.
If you go away for more than a few days, make sure that you have someone to keep the feeders filled while you’re gone.
3. Avoid Using Insecticides
While 80% of their diet is fruit, cedar waxwings also eat a fair amount of insects, especially during the breeding season. They are especially partial to mayflies, dragonflies, and spruce budworms.
A robust insect population will help keep them around, so you should be very careful in using insecticides. As a bonus, birds can be very effective at controlling pest populations.
4. Get A Bird Bath To Attract Cedar Waxwings
Cedar waxwings appreciate access to fresh water, and a well-placed bird bath is a great way to keep them around. They like wide, shallow basins with 2 or 3 inches of water.
Find a sunny spot for it where the sunlight will sparkle off the water so they can’t miss it. It’s even better to have a bubbler installed to keep the water circulating and make it more noticeable.
5. Grow Cedars And Maples For Cedar Waxwing Nesting
Cedar waxwings don’t just need a place to eat, but also a place to live.
As you might guess from their name, they’re partial to nesting in cedars or junipers, which not only provide them with winter food, but also with a secure home protected from cold winds and potential predators.
Maple trees are another favorite for nesting, as they like to build their nests high off the ground when possible.
Overall, you should aim to plant a wide variety of fruiting shrubs and trees, and lots of evergreens, to provide both food and shelter to cedar waxwings.
Consider installing a mixed hedge of deciduous and evergreen shrubs to screen your yard from the prevailing winds to create a refuge for all sorts of birds.
6. Provide Cedar Waxwings With Nest Construction Materials
One way to encourage cedar waxwings to take up residence in your yard is by making it easier for them to build a nest.
Take an empty suet feeder or even a netted onion bag, and fill it with scraps of wool, fur, and feathers for cedar waxwings and other birds to use in renovating an existing nest or building a new one.