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Has anyone seen any Waxwings this winter?

23/11/2008 22:38:28

Waxwing. Photo credit Jill Pakenham/BTO.


Waxwings are highly distinctive birds, about the size of a Starling, brown-pink in colour with a prominent crest and a black chin. On their wings they have beautiful red waxy tips. More information can be found on BirdFacts.

The last few weeks have seen the arrival on the north-east coast of Britain of over 1,000 Waxwings from Scandinavia. With some of these beginning to move south, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) wants to know where they are now.

November 2008. The BTO's Bird Atlas 2007-11 project aims to map the distribution of Waxwings, along with all other species regularly wintering in Britain and Ireland over a four-year period. November 1st 2008 saw the start of the second winter of Atlas fieldwork and coincided with an excellent arrival of Waxwings to the east coast of Scotland and England. Since their arrival, flocks of Waxwings have been moving slowly westwards in search of food.

Given the good numbers recorded so far this winter, we hope that it will prove to be an excellent year for this enigmatic species. So far their distribution is mostly east and north of a line from the Dee Estuary to the Thames. Will they spread westwards in coming weeks?

October 2008 waxwing distribution. Courtesy BTO.

October 2008 waxwing distribution. Courtesy BTO.

Familiar to many people because of their love of berries, they can be found in gardens, supermarket car parks, city centre parks - almost anywhere with ornamental bushes or native trees with lots of berries. Their distinctive appearance; a beautiful mix of soft pinks and buffs with splashes of bright yellow and red, topped off with a black ‘robber's mask' and a magnificent crest, make this Starling-sized bird noticeable by birdwatchers and non-birdwatchers alike.

Varying numbers every year
Numbers of Waxwings reaching Britain and Ireland vary from year to year and ‘invasion years' are characterised by a failure of berry crops in Scandinavia. Typically they arrive in eastern Britain, strip bushes of berries and move on in search of more food. In ‘classic' years birds reach Wales, Ireland and south-west England.

How to tell BTO about your sighting
If you have seen a Waxwing since 1 November then Bird Atlas 2007-11 wants to hear about it. You can enter your records online at (register and follow links to Roving Records) or by requesting a form from BTO. In addition to Waxwing, all other species you see in the winter can be recorded, and by gathering records over a four-year period we will be able to compile comprehensive species maps and start to investigate changes in distributions since the last Winter Atlas in 1981-84.

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment


We have just seen about 20 waxwings in a tree in our garden in Leeds. Never seen any before in the garden in 26 years of living here.

Posted by: Rocky | 01 Apr 2013 16:43:56


Just had 7 on our tree

Ashby del a zouch Leicestershire

Posted by: Joyce | 28 Mar 2013 17:02:11

Waxwings in Oxfordshire

Seven spotted on telegraph wires at OX33 1DX. Fantastic, exotic looking birds - much bigger than I thought from photographs

Posted by: alison finch | 20 Mar 2013 10:26:18

Waxwings spotted

There are 7+ outside in Chester, PA
I have never seen them in this area before.

Posted by: Susan Tsiouris | 07 Mar 2013 17:28:22

Waxwings, Prestwick, Ayrshire

I didn't recognise these lovely birds when I saw them just now so, I snapped a photo and looked them up on the web to find out what they were; that's when I found this forum and thought I should let you folks know! I've never seen Waxwings before and they're just lovely, sitting here in a Rowan tree in my garden in sunny Prestwick. If you would like to see the photo, go here:

Posted by: Tom Findlay | 28 Feb 2013 17:12:27


We spotted a flock of waxwings on our apple tree yesterday morning, a real treat!. We don't like this weather but it does have it's compensations.

Posted by: Lynette Hare | 25 Jan 2013 18:16:56

40 Spotted

I saw a flock sitting in my neighbours tree, they sat there for about 20 mins before flying off. I noticed them singing at first which drew my eye, I wasn't sure what they were at as I've not seen Waxwings before.

Haverhill, Suffolk.

Posted by: Jayne Fletcher | 12 Apr 2011 15:54:21


Just spotted 30-40 Waxwings eating a neighbour's berries in Wishaw North Lanarkshire - very beautiful birds.

Posted by: William Kirkwood | 19 Feb 2011 12:34:22

50+ waxwings in sale, cheshire

a flock landed in poplar trees behind a house i am painting outside at 3pm, today 3rd feb. at first i took them for starlings but they were too still, all facing the same way and not talking like starlings. they moved to a big tree beside the leisure centre and then made raids as a flock on some pretty bare rowan trees below, right up against the leisure centre. has anyone else seen this flock?

Posted by: simon cunningham | 03 Feb 2011 19:50:39


well ive just looked out of the window and saw a flock of around 80 waxwings sat in the elderberry trees that surround my back yard! this is the first time i have ever seen this bird in the wild and it was stunning to see so many together to!
i am based in manchester u,k.

Posted by: neilchesh | 01 Feb 2011 12:48:13

I have a Waxwing

Hi everyone, have just found an injured waxwing on my drive. It is currently in a box in a quiet room of the house. I have contacted a local bird rescue centre who are going to collect it tomorrow, fingers crossed it survives!!! I live in Lowestoft, Suffolk

Posted by: millie talbot | 23 Jan 2011 15:50:23



Posted by: ian bell | 04 Jan 2011 09:16:48

roger butt

Just spotted about 20 waxwings in the tree at the bottom of my garden . what a lovely sight . RB Stannington Sheffield

Posted by: Roger Butt | 01 Jan 2011 12:54:04

Waxwings in Turnpike Lane, North London today

About 20 birds in the trees. Absolutely stunningly beautiful

Posted by: Catriona Thomson | 26 Dec 2010 17:04:41

waxwings in rolleston on dove

just got back to house and forty waxwings sat on the roof

Posted by: david rose | 18 Dec 2010 12:20:16

Flock of Waxwings

Just seen approx 40 Waxwings in the carpark at TJ Hughes in Macclesfield, Cheshire it made my Christmas !

Posted by: julie Sumner | 12 Dec 2010 15:06:58

Waxwings In NI

I saw about 50 Waxwings helping themselves to the berries on my Rowan tree, Ballyclare, Co. Antrim .

Posted by: Katie H | 09 Dec 2010 17:44:02

Waxwings Clee Hill Shropshire

Seen 100+ waxwings in oak tree in my garden.They were feeding in neighbouring garden and flying into oak tree all day. Never seen them in this area before.

Posted by: Cliff Charles | 06 Dec 2010 16:07:11

waxwings spotted

the waxwings must be spreading westward as I spotted four eating the berries on a small Rowan in the garden yesterday (19.11.10)
Glossop Derbyshire sk13 14 mls n e Manchester

Posted by: Jeff Cooper | 20 Nov 2010 13:08:37


First spotted 22 waxwings taking turns to come down to pink berried rowan from walnut tree on l6th Nov. Larger number on l7th and 48 on 18th Nov. Sadly all berries and waxwings gone.
First sighting here in 22 years. Swainby, N.Yorks.

Posted by: H. Gregory | 19 Nov 2010 12:45:35


Seen about 100 Waxwings in the two trees at the bottom of my garden this morning.I have never seen so many. Absolutely beautiful sight.
N.E Middlesbrough.

Posted by: Paul Leonard | 19 Nov 2010 09:07:43


Sunday 14.11.10

We had flock of approx in garden today resgting next to Holly Tree
Annan, Dumfridesshire

Posted by: JMILLAR | 14 Nov 2010 23:21:16

waxwings spotted

spotted 6 waxwings in my front garden 10/11/10 inverurie aberdeenshire

Posted by: Nic Smith | 10 Nov 2010 15:02:51


Sightins of approx15 Waxwings in my garden eating red crab apples. Have been here a few days Latter part of February and in March 09. North Antrim Coast N.Ireland

Posted by: | 19 Mar 2009 00:43:09

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