Immature Cedar Waxwing in the Wasatch Mountains

/, Cedar Waxwings, Little Emigration Canyon, Morgan County, Utah, Wasatch Mountains/Immature Cedar Waxwing in the Wasatch Mountains

I’ve been trying for over a month to get decent images of fledgling and juvenile Cedar Waxwings and hadn’t succeeded but yesterday I was able to take a photograph of an immature waxwing that I actually like.

Immature Cedar Waxwing, Little Emigration Canyon, Summit County, UtahImmature Cedar Waxwing – Nikon D500, f4, 1/800, ISO 1600, Nikkor 500mm VR, natural light

Fledglings are birds that have just left their nests, juveniles are birds that still have juvenile plumage, so what makes this Cedar Waxwing an immature bird?

To put it simply this young Cedar Waxwing is molting out of its juvenile plumage. Just one or two weeks ago I could see defuse brown stripes on the pale chest and bellies of the juvenile Cedar Waxwings I was seeing, this bird totally lacks those stripes and I can see a little bit of the pale yellow belly feathers that adults have. In human “ages” I’d say this Cedar Waxwings is in its teen aged years, not quite an adult but not a juvenile either.

It can’t be seen in this photo but this youngster does not have the waxy red secondary wing tips that adults have but it does have the distinct waxy, yellow tail tips that adults do although on this juvenile those wing tips aren’t nearly as long as they are on adults.

In my area of Utah I can see, hear and photograph Cedar Waxwings year round. Maybe next year I will be able to take the photos  of Cedar Waxwings in their juvenile plumage that I have been dreaming of.

Life is good.


Cedar Waxwing facts and information:

Bombycilla cedrorum

  • Cedar Waxwings are medium sized, grayish birds with brown crested heads, a narrow black mask with pale yellow bellies, waxy yellow tips on their tails and waxy red tips on their wings. Males and females look alike.
  • Cedar Waxwings are short to long distance migrants. They spend winters in the lower third of North America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and extreme northern parts of South America.
  • Cedar Waxwings can be found in woodlands, orchards, farms, suburban gardens, riparian habitats, sagebrush, desert washes and grasslands as long as there are shrubs, bushes or trees nearby that bear fruit.
  • Cedar Waxwings primarily feed on fruit year round. They can become intoxicated if the sugar in the fruits have fermented. They will also eat insects.
  • Cedar Waxwings lay 2 to 6 eggs which hatch in 12 to 16 days. Both adults incubate and they are monogamous.
  • A group of waxwings can be called an “ear-full” of waxwings.
  • Cedar Waxwings can live to be more than 7 years of age.


  1. Elephants Child September 27, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    More beautiful than most of the teenagers of our species.

  2. Patty Chadwick September 27, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    Interesting. Would never have known that it was a wax wing…Beautiful photo….

  3. Bruce Grosjean September 27, 2018 at 12:29 pm


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