Cedar Waxwing Migration: Where Do Waxwings Go in Winter?

Learn about cedar waxwing migration and where these colorful birds might show up during the cold weather months.

Question: A few winters ago, I spotted cedar waxwings eating the fruit off my Cleveland pear trees. I’m wondering about cedar waxwing migration. Is it normal for them to be here, or do they typically fly south for the winter? —Anna Zimmerman of Avenue, Maryland

Kenn and Kimberly: Cedar waxwings are wanderers, and they may show up anywhere in southern Canada or the lower 48 states, including the coastal plain of Maryland. Classic nomads, they almost always travel in flocks. These social birds do nearly everything as a group, seeking out trees and shrubs heavy with ripe berries or small fruits. Finding food motivates their movements.

It’s normal for them to be in your area, but it’s also normal for them to disappear for months at a time. The timing of their travel is very unpredictable, but if you keep an eye on those Cleveland pear trees when the fruits are ripe, you might see waxwings again. Look for wandering waxwings at flowering crab, hawthorn, mountain ash, deciduous or evergreen hollies, junipers and more—any berry bush that offers a feast big enough for a flock.

Learn how to attract waxwings with berries.

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.