basic information

Bohemian Waxwing

Bombycilla garrulus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Свиристель | Самыр

East-Kazakhstan, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Irtysh river
© Valentin Zenkov


The Bohemian Waxwing is not large, Starling-sized bird. It is unmistakable known by the specific colors and especially by the luxuriant crest which though is invisible in flight. They are grayish-brown with white and yellow wing-patches; black throat and mask and yellow terminal tail-bands. Females are very similar on males but have slightly dimmer black on head and slightly less contrast of colors. No seasonal variations of coloring. The summer juveniles are much plain and browner than adults, without dark throat patch and with a little crest. In autumn (usually in September) juveniles become almost as adults and until the next middle-summer the age is determined by the pale tips of the primaries; the adults have terminal yellow-white V-pattern; but the juveniles have only yellow, yellowish or white oblong patch on the outer web of primaries, the inner web is without white terminal strip. On males (both old and young) the yellow on the outer webs of primaries is more extensive than on females. All adult birds have the red skin (“plastic” or “waxy”) deposits on the tips of secondaries, but the number of these deposits is more on males (up to 10). Not all juveniles have these deposits, some first-year males doesn't have these deposits too. Some old males have red shafts of tail feathers, even with red deposits as on wings. The Waxwing's flight is most of all resembled the Starling flight. Weight 40-83 grams, length 19-23, wing 11,1-12,5, wingspan 30-38 cm.


The Bohemian Waxwing on migration and in winter recorded in Kazakhstan throughout, both on plains and in mountains, for example 20 January 1980 at Bolshoye Almatinskoye lake in Zailiyskiy Alatau and on Markakol lake in the Southern Altai. Once observed on Barsa-Kelmes island.


The Bohemian Waxwing stays in Kazakhstan for wintering, quite common in some places, or rarely at passage. Prefers deciduous, mixed, coniferous and riparian forests, gardens and thickets, where the fruits of dog-rose, rowan-tree, elder, snowball tree, Russian olive and apple tree can be found. In autumn the bird arrives from the end of September to early October in flocks of dozens to sometimes thousands of individuals. Duration of their stay depends on food availability. When food is in short supply, birds fly to other areas. The range of roaming depends on crop abundance in this or that area. The primary wintering food is ashberry. When it is not enough food in one area, the roaming widens, sometimes extending to villages and towns, where the birds feed on fruits in cultivated gardens and shrubbery. Small fruits make the main feed for adult birds the greater part of the year. The birds are very gluttonous and only partly overdo the berries thus adding to seeds spreading. In some years Waxwing are very common in Kazakhstan. Most birds depart between February and March; last recorded in May to early June.


Bombycilla garrulus garrulus (Linnaeus, 1758)


В.К.Рябицев. "Птицы Урала, Приуралья и Западной Сибири". Екатеринбург, Изд-во Уральского университета, 2000. Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999. А.Ф.Ковшарь "Певчие птицы". Алма-Ата, "Кайнар", 1983.



Bombycilla garrulus garrulus
(Linnaeus, 1758)


Bombycilla garrulus centralasiae
(Polyakov, 1915)
Bombycilla garrulus ussuriensis
(Buturlin, 1915)

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