What Does a Cedar Waxwing Call Sound Like?

Learn how to identify a cedar waxwing call and hear what the species sounds like. Then you can listen for these birds in your backyard.

cedar waxwing callCourtesy Britney Fox
Cedar waxwings call in a flowering crabapple tree

Although waxwings are classified as songbirds, their singing voices are nothing to sing about. You might hear a group of waxwings before you see them, so you should learn to identify their high-pitched sseee call. Every cedar waxwing call will be some variation of these high, thin notes. When a huge flock of waxwings is perched a nearby tree or flying overhead, you’ll definitely notice the noisy group.

Bohemian waxwings make rougher, lower versions of the same call, with minor variations. Neither species has an actual song. Male birds usually sing to defend their territories, and since waxwings are sociable all year, they apparently don’t need such a defense. Waxwings often nest in colonies.

Listen to the cedar waxwing call to help you can identify these birds.

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Next, learn how to tell the difference between bohemian waxwings and cedar waxwings.

Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
Kenn and Kimberly are the official Birds & Blooms bird experts. They are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world. When they're not traveling, they enjoy watching birds and other wildlife in their Northwest Ohio backyard. Fascinated with the natural world since the age of 6, Kenn has traveled to observe birds on all seven continents, and has authored or coauthored 14 books about birds and nature, including include seven titles in his own series, Kaufman Field Guides, designed to encourage beginners by making the first steps in nature study as easy as possible. His next book, The Birds That Audubon Missed, is scheduled to be published by Simon & Schuster in May 2024. Kenn is a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society, and has received the American Birding Association’s lifetime achievement award twice. Kimberly is the Executive Director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) in northwest Ohio. She became the Education Director in 2005 and Executive Director in 2009. As the Education Director, Kimberly played a key role in building BSBO’s school programs, as well as the highly successful Ohio Young Birders Club, a group for teenagers that has served as a model for youth birding programs. Kimberly is also the co-founder of The Biggest Week In American Birding, the largest birding festival in the U.S. Under Kimberly’s leadership, BSBO developed a birding tourism season in northwest Ohio that brings an annual economic impact of more than $40 million to the local economy. She is a contributing editor to Birds & Blooms Magazine, and coauthor of the Kaufman Field Guides to Nature of New England and Nature of the Midwest. Accolades to her credit include the Chandler Robbins Award, given by the American Birding Association to an individual who has made significant contributions to education and/or bird conservation. In 2017, she received a prestigious Milestone Award from the Toledo Area YWCA. Kimberly serves on the boards of Shores and Islands Ohio and the American Bird Conservancy.