Thursday, November 18, 2010

Waxwing Glut

Waxwings have been arriving from Scandinavia in record numbers this year to take advantage of a bumper harvest of rowan berries.These beautiful birds migrate to the UK when food stocks further north begin to run out. The first birds land in huge flocks on the north east coast and so we are ideally placed to see them here. It's only when you photograph these birds that you can see what the human eye misses. They toss the berries up in the air before gobbling them down whole.
I spotted this mistle thrush getting in on the act, presumably before the berries are all gone.
Large flocks of waxwings can strip rowan trees of their berries in minutes. Rowan are native to Scandinavia and tend to be their first choice of winter food, but they go on to hawthorn and other berries once they've stripped the rowans. When they can get them they also eat insects, catching flies on the wing like flycatchers.
Waxwings get their name from the red tip to their primary wing feathers which look as though they've been dipped in sealing wax.


  1. I'm not sure what Rowan Berries are, but the Waxwings here in Alaska eat Mountain Ash Berries which look basially identical to your photos of Rowan Berries. Great photos by the way.

  2. I'm sure they are one and the same. We call them rowan or mountain ash here.