How to distinguish male and female waxwings

Cedar Waxwing in Alpine, New Jersey, by Harry Collins.
Cedar Waxwing in Alpine, New Jersey, by Harry Collins.
Bohemian Waxwing in Anchorage, Alaska, by Jamin Taylor.
Bohemian Waxwing in Anchorage, Alaska, by Jamin Taylor.

In the column “Since You Asked,” Contributing Editor Julie Craves answers readers’ questions about birds and bird behavior. Her column appears in every issue of BirdWatching. Here’s a question from the June 2016 issue:

Is there a way to tell apart male and female Cedar Waxwings? — David Green, Oxford, Ohio

Plumage differences between male and female waxwings can be subtle, but if you get a good look, you may be able to distinguish them. The most reliable feature is the amount of black on the chin of adult birds — the coloration is more extensive on males. The feature is variable, but if you compare a number of birds in a flock, you will likely be able to pick out some males and females. The difference is also found in Bohemian Waxwings, but the overlap between males and females is greater, so it is harder to tell the difference between the two. — Julie Craves

See photos of Cedar Waxwing.

See photos of Bohemian Waxwing.

About Julie Craves

Julie-Craves-120Julie is supervisor of avian research at the Rouge River Bird Observatory at the University of Michigan Dearborn and a research associate at the university’s Environmental Interpretive Center. She writes about her research on the blog Net Results, and she maintains the website Coffee & Conservation, a thorough resource on where coffee comes from and its impact on wild birds.

Read other questions that Julie has answered in “Since You Asked.”

If you have a question about birds for Julie, send it to [email protected] or visit our Contact page

 

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