The Bohemian Waxwing is one of the most impressive birds to see in Britain - roughly Starling-sized and shaped (18-21 cm), they arrive in Britain from Scandinavia in the late autumn and early winter, occasionally only a few and in other years an invasion. Their diet consists of berries and when these crops are exhausted in their breeding ground, they migrate to find more. They are usually gregarious, rarely been seen alone in winter and sometimes forming large, roving flocks that strip the berries from the trees, especially rowan and hawthorn. One of the things that makes them of so much interest is their plumage and crest and the overall pleasing sight of them in a cold winter. Their range covers most of northern Europe as well as Siberia and parts of North America - in these last two, they can overlap with the other two waxwing species, the Japanese and Cedar Waxwings, which are all quite similar. Their name stems from the tiny red ends to the secondary wing feathers that were once likened to red sealing wax in colour. In German, they are called "silk-tails" (Seidenschwanz), while in Dutch they are know as plague-birds (Pestvogel) on account of appearing when epidemics took hold in the winter.
1: Exter Services, Devon, 01/01/2013.
2-3: Wokingham, Berkshire, 19/12/2012.