Spotlight on... Waxwings

Wandering Waxwings

The dazzling waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus), visits the UK over the winter, from Scandinavia and Russia, when their food supply is low. Waxwings have a rather large appetite and visitor numbers are usually dictated by the cyclical nature of berry crops where some years (an event called ‘irruptions’),may see thousands of these birds arriving where some winters there may one be a mere hundred.

They favour red and orange berries usually rowan, hawthorn and cotoneaster which are usually found in many urban areas near supermarkets, car parks, housing and industrial states.

Waxwings got their name from its remarkably unique paint like appearance, their bright red tips to some of their wing feathers, which look like drops of sealing wax.

Where are Waxwings?

The first waxwings will usually arrive in October/November, in east Scotland and in the north of the UK, with more eventually making their way south with some moving inland in search of food until March/April.

According to our database, it shows that waxwings are found mostly in the eastern part of Berkshire (see map below). However, are there waxwing records missing from this map? We need your sightings to fill in any gaps!

Have you seen any Waxwings?

If you spot any wildlife when you’re out and about, share your records and photos with TVERC. By letting TVERC know what you have seen you will help protect and improve your local environment by increasing the quality and quantity of data we hold.

Absence records are also very useful, so also let us know if you’ve been out and haven’t seen anything!

Your records can inform a variety of exciting biodiversity projects and help people make informed decisions about how to develop and manage land sustainably. We are a ‘not for profit’ organisation so rely on valuable help from skilled volunteers to improve our database.

Identification help

This exotic looking bird is slightly smaller than a Starling with a peach brown plumage. They do not breed in the UK and can usually be found in flocks.

You should be able to spot their characteristic pink crest and their bandit-like black mask with white under eyeliner and black throat, a yellow tipped tail, yellow and white markings on its wings.

Find out more 

Where should we direct our spotlight next?

If you are a recorder, a local recording group or just have an interest in a species, send us your suggestion for a species, along with some facts and a photo (if possible) to