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Flock of waxwings in tree

Image: Andy Hay

Waxwings are starling-sized, stout-bodied, short-legged birds with an upstanding, pointed crest. They have black throats, black wings with white, yellow and waxy red markings and yellow-tipped tails.

Large numbers combined with a shortage of food in northern Europe trigger periodic movements south and west, when they may reach the UK.

Just one species breeds in Europe and visits the UK erratically in winter, while one other from North America has appeared on rare occasions. 


The waxwing is a plump bird, which is slightly smaller than a starling. It has a prominent crest. It is reddish-brown with a black throat, a small black mask round its eye, yellow and white in the win... More...