How to Attract Cedar Waxwings (Food, Water & Nesting Needs)

Cedar Waxwings are beautiful birds known for their striking appearance and social nature. Attracting these elegant creatures to your yard can be a rewarding experience, as they bring beauty and life to your outdoor space. To successfully attract Cedar Waxwings, it’s essential to understand their dietary preferences, habitat requirements, and unique behaviors.

Providing a variety of food sources, including fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, is key to attracting Cedar Waxwings. These birds are also drawn to water sources, so having a birdbath or small pond in your yard can significantly increase their presence. Additionally, understanding Cedar Waxwing behavior and traits will help you create a suitable habitat where they can thrive and feel comfortable.

Key Takeaways

  • Provide a variety of food sources, like fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, to attract Cedar Waxwings
  • Offer water sources, such as birdbaths or small ponds, to enhance their attraction to your yard
  • Understand Cedar Waxwing behavior and traits to create a suitable habitat for these captivating birds.

Attracting Cedar Waxwings: Essentials

Fruit Sources

Attracting cedar waxwings to your yard involves providing the right food sources. These birds have a strong preference for fruit. Therefore, planting fruit-bearing trees and shrubs like dogwood, serviceberry, cedar, juniper, hawthorn, or winterberry can significantly increase the chances of them visiting your yard 1. You can also try placing a feeder with a variety of foods they like, such as grape jelly, applesauce, or suet cakes, which are good for providing protein 2.

Water Sources

Besides food, having a water source available is crucial for attracting cedar waxwings 3. Birds love water not only for drinking but also for preening and bathing. A birdbath or a small pond in your yard can be an excellent way to provide water. Make sure to keep them clean, well-maintained, and filled throughout the year, as cedar waxwings require a consistent water source.

Nesting Opportunities

Although providing food and water sources will help attract cedar waxwings, offering nesting opportunities will encourage them to stay longer in your yard. They generally prefer to nest in dense vegetation or deciduous trees. Providing suitable shrubs for nesting and maintaining your yard’s vegetation can create a welcoming environment for these beautiful birds. Keep in mind that cedar waxwings have a social nature, so creating a bird-friendly yard with multiple food sources and nesting locations will increase the likelihood of a flock choosing your yard as a regular stop.

Creating a Suitable Habitat

To attract cedar waxwings to your backyard, it’s essential to create a habitat that provides their basic needs such as food, nesting materials, and a safe environment. In this section, you’ll learn how to choose the right trees and shrubs, support insects in your yard, and maintain a safe environment for these beautiful birds.

Choose the Right Trees and Shrubs

One of the key factors in attracting cedar waxwings is planting trees and shrubs that produce their preferred food: berries. Some suitable options include dogwood, serviceberry, cedar, juniper, hawthorn, and winterberry. By providing a variety of fruit-bearing plants, you’ll increase the chances of luring cedar waxwings to your backyard.

Support Insects in Your Yard

Cedar waxwings also eat insects, which make up a significant portion of their diet. To support a healthy insect population in your yard, aim to create a diverse ecosystem with native plants and trees. This will attract a variety of insects and create a natural food source for cedar waxwings. Avoid using pesticides excessively, as they can harm beneficial insects and disrupt the delicate balance in your backyard habitat.

Maintaining a Safe Environment

Creating a safe environment helps cedar waxwings feel comfortable and secure in your backyard. Offer fresh, clean water by installing a birdbath or a water feature, as this will not only attract waxwings but also benefit the general health of your backyard ecosystem. Keep an eye on your yard, ensuring it’s free from predators such as cats, and take measures to make it as sheltered as possible. Provide nesting materials like twigs, grasses, and small branches for cedar waxwings to build their nests. This will encourage them to stay and breed in your yard, creating an even more vibrant and lively habitat for these stunning birds.

By following these guidelines and creating a suitable habitat for cedar waxwings, you can enjoy their beauty and benefit the overall biodiversity in your backyard.

Best Plants for Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings are attracted to a variety of fruit-bearing trees and shrubs that provide them with much-needed nourishment. In this section, we’ll explore some of the best plants to incorporate into your landscape to attract these beautiful birds.


Dogwood trees are a favorite of Cedar Waxwings due to their abundance of small berries. These berries not only provide a food source for the birds but also add a splash of color to your yard.


Hawthorn trees also provide Cedar Waxwings with a bountiful supply of fruit. The tree’s small red berries are a tasty treat for these birds, and hawthorn’s dense branches offer an ideal location for nesting.


Serviceberry shrubs are another excellent choice for attracting Cedar Waxwings. Rich in berries, these deciduous plants offer a food source for the birds and boast beautiful white flowers in the spring.

Mountain Ash

Mountain Ash trees are a fantastic option for both their fruit and visual appeal. Their clusters of bright orange berries are a magnet for Cedar Waxwings, and their vibrant foliage adds an aesthetic touch to your garden.


Winterberry shrubs provide a striking contrast of red berries against a backdrop of dark green leaves. These berries are a favorite of Cedar Waxwings, making this plant a great addition to your yard for attracting these birds.


Elderberry plants are another must-have for attracting Cedar Waxwings. These shrubs offer clusters of dark purple berries that the birds find irresistible. Elderberries also benefit human health due to their high antioxidant content, making them a win-win for your garden.


Cherry trees are not only loved by humans but also by Cedar Waxwings. The birds are particularly fond of the fruit, giving you another reason to add this attractive and productive tree to your landscape.


While maples may not be an obvious choice for attracting Cedar Waxwings, the trees do offer nesting sites and some species produce small fruit-like seeds (samaras) that the birds may snack on. Incorporating a maple tree into your landscape can provide both beauty and benefits for the Cedar Waxwings.


Honeysuckle vines, with their sweet-smelling flowers and tempting berries, are another attractive option for Cedar Waxwings. Planting honeysuckle in your garden not only lures these birds but also provides you with a visually appealing and fragrant addition to your yard.

Cedar Waxwing Behavior and Traits

Diet and Feeding Habits

Cedar Waxwings are unique songbirds known for their distinctive diet which primarily consists of various fruits. They are particularly fond of berries, such as raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. However, they also consume sap, insects, and other small food items they can find in nature. These opportunistic feeders often fly out to catch insects in mid-air or hover while plucking berries from bushes and trees.

Physical Appearance

Boasting a crest atop the head, Cedar Waxwings express elegant plumage. With a mix of soft brown, gray, and yellow feathers, they have sleek and colorful appearances. A distinguishing feature of these birds is their black band across the eyes, resembling a small mask. Males and females look quite similar, but there may be slight variations in color intensity.

Courtship and Breeding

Cedar Waxwings exhibit unique courtship rituals. Pairs of male and female birds often pass a small object, typically a berry or an insect, back and forth to each other multiple times before consuming it. This action serves as a bonding experience and confirms their commitment to each other. Cedar Waxwings usually nest in trees, laying 3-5 pale gray to bluish-gray eggs, which are finely spotted with brown and black.

Migration Patterns

As migratory birds, Cedar Waxwings are known to travel seasonally. Their migration patterns depend on the availability of food sources, particularly fruit, in different locations. Generally, they head toward the northern parts of North America during the breeding season, but may wander widely in search of abundant fruit sources. Cedar Waxwings are versatile and adaptable, capable of thriving in various habitats such as forests, gardens, and urban areas.

Enhancing Waxwing Attraction

Cedar waxwings are beautiful, social birds known for their black masks and vibrant tail colors. Attracting these elegant creatures to your yard can provide a picturesque birdwatching experience. In this section, we’ll discuss various strategies for enhancing waxwing attraction through supplemental feeders, birdbaths, and supporting nesting habits.

Supplemental Feeders

Cedar waxwings primarily feed on small fruits from trees like junipers, elderberry, mulberry, and crabapple. They also enjoy raspberries, strawberries, and the fruits of deciduous berry bushes such as honeysuckle. Planting a variety of fruit-bearing flora will encourage waxwings to visit, especially during winter months when the birds migrate south through Canada and other parts of North America.

In addition to providing natural food sources, consider using supplemental feeders that accommodate the cedar waxwing’s diet. Suet feeders can ensure waxwings receive the necessary protein in their diet. Another option is offering grape jelly or applesauce in a feeder to attract flocks of waxwings.


Water plays an essential role in the lives of cedar waxwings. Providing a clean, shallow birdbath ensures a consistent water source for the birds to drink and bathe. Cedar waxwings are social birds and tend to visit birdbaths in small groups. Change the water in the birdbath frequently to maintain cleanliness and prevent ants from becoming a problem.

Monitoring and Supporting Nesting Habits

Cedar waxwings typically build their nests in open woodland areas, parks, and gardens with easy access to small fruits. During the summer months, usually in June, these nomadic birds start breeding and begin constructing their nests. The size of a cedar waxwing nest can range from small to medium, and it may be built in vineyards or fruiting trees.

To encourage nesting in your yard, try providing nesting material such as small twigs and grasses. Watch for signs of nesting activity from a safe distance, and do not disturb the birds to ensure they continue to feel welcome in your yard. While nesting cedar waxwings can be considered rare, creating a supportive environment may encourage them to stay and trust your yard as their home.

By applying these strategies, monitoring your yard, and avoiding exaggerated or false claims, you can enhance cedar waxwing attraction and enjoy their beautiful presence. Don’t forget to respect these elegant visitors and admire their unique appearance, as they provide a delightful addition to your yard’s natural ecosystem.

Frequently Asked Questions

What plants provide the best food for Cedar Waxwings?

Cedar Waxwings primarily feed on fruits and berries. To attract them, consider planting fruit-bearing trees and shrubs such as serviceberry, dogwood, hawthorn, elderberry, and viburnum. Additionally, strawberry plants can be an excellent choice as their flowers attract butterflies and the berries draw in waxwings and other fruit-loving birds [source(].

Which bird feeders are most suited for attracting Cedar Waxwings?

Cedar Waxwings are not typical feeder birds; however, they might be attracted to platform feeders that offer their preferred food items, such as chopped fruits or mealworms if natural resources are scarce. Remember, providing fruit-bearing trees and shrubs in your yard is the most effective way to attract these birds [source(].

How can I create the ideal habitat for Cedar Waxwings in my yard?

To create an inviting habitat for Cedar Waxwings, incorporate a mix of fruit-producing plants, water sources, and nesting materials. Providing a forest edge can also help attract them as they prefer transitional areas between open fields and wooded landscapes [source(].

What time of year are Cedar Waxwings most active?

Cedar Waxwings can be seen throughout the year. However, they are more active during their breeding season, which typically falls between March and August, depending on the location. During this time, their fruit consumption increases, making it an excellent opportunity to attract them to your yard [source(].

Do Cedar Waxwings prefer specific types of berries?

Cedar Waxwings are not particularly picky about the type of berries they consume. They enjoy a variety of fruits and berries, including those from trees and shrubs like hawthorn, dogwood, serviceberry, and elderberry. Planting a diverse selection of fruit-producing plants can increase the chances of attracting Cedar Waxwings to your yard [source(].

What are the primary factors that draw Cedar Waxwings to an area?

The primary factors attracting Cedar Waxwings include the presence of fruit-producing trees and shrubs, water sources such as birdbaths or fountains, and available nesting materials. Cedar Waxwings are fruit and berry specialists, so providing a diverse selection of their preferred food sources is crucial for luring them to your yard [source(].

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