Waxwing ringing in England


This video from the USA is called Bohemian Waxwings Eating Apples in Maine.

From Wildlife Extra:

Waxwing ringing project gets underway in York

Waxwing year gets underway with large flocks in Skye and in Yorkshire and Humberside

November 2012. Britain has seen a large influx of several thousand waxwings this autumn. With distinctive bright red tips at the end of their dusky pink plumage, square-ended yellow tail feathers and a black ‘highwayman’ band running across their eyes, these colourful little birds have big characters. A flock of 1,000 was seen round the Isle of Skye, and several flocks of up to 300 birds have been present in Yorkshire and the Humber region as the birds move south after having depleted berry crops further north.

Rowan tree

Natural England staff and volunteers from the Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve (NNR) came to nearby York to ring waxwings around the York Walls. With permission from the City of York Council, nets were set round a rowan tree beneath the city walls and 12 waxwings were soon caught. This was a great result in terms of successfully ringing birds to gather scientific evidence; and a fantastic opportunity to tell the watching public more about waxwings and how bird ringing projects work.

Craig Ralston, Natural England’s Senior Reserve Manager from the Lower Derwent Valley NNR, waxed lyrical about the ringing project. He said: “This ringing project – which forms part of a wider scientific data collection programme – brings fascinating conservation work more often found on our nature reserves, right into the heart of the city. It’s a great way of engaging with people about the surprising natural wonders that can be found on our doorsteps.”

Birds move south as winter sets in

Licensed bird ringers throughout the UK have been catching, ringing and fitting waxwings with colour-rings to track their movement through the country over the winter, particularly in Aberdeen and in Orkney. In previous winter influxes, birds ringed in Aberdeen in November have moved south to York in January; and moved further south to Bedford by February and March, before returning north-east again in spring.

Breed in the Arctic

Waxwings are birds of the high Arctic and boreal forest, the closest breeding populations being found in Scandinavia. Every few years, flocks of birds erupt, possibly driven by good breeding seasons, or a lack of berries, their main food source. They then fly across the North Sea to spend the winter here. They often congregate in towns and cities, choosing very public sites such as supermarkets or council car parks where the planting of ornamental berry bushes such as rowan or cotoneaster provide great feeding opportunities.

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13 thoughts on “Waxwing ringing in England

  1. I once had a job with an office window; a miracle in itself. Outside the window was a tree that produced an abundance of large berries. In early winter the waxwings would come and feast on the pretty red berries. Many of them would seem to tip and totter as they hung on to the branches. Then some of them would fly into my window. They would not get injured because the distance from branch to window was no more than three feet. I often wondered if the berries had somehow fermented and contained alcohol.

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