This is a time of year when we start seeing large flocks of waxwings in the interior of BC. And they cause confusion for some people. So I hope this post will help sort out the potential for errors.
We have 2 species of waxwings in BC and in Canada generally. The common summering bird in the southern parts of Canada is the Cedar Waxwing. The Bohemian Waxwing breeds primarily in the northern regions although small numbers breed in the Rocky Mtns much farther south. The Bohemian Waxwings are the ones that are seen in large numbers in winter in western Canada, particularly BC. In some years, incursions will occur in central and eastern Canada. Cedar Waxwings overwinter in southern Ontario in fair numbers, so there is the potential for confusion. Cedars also winter in the southern interior of BC, but in small numbers. But still, observers who are not keen bird watchers miss the subtle change over of flocks and field characteristics and assume that any waxwing is a Cedar Waxwing, regardless of the time of year, See the photos for distinctions.
The preceding photo is a typical Cedar Waxwing. Note the white under the tail. These feathers are called coverts, so this species has white undertail coverts. There are other distinctions but this is the most obvious trait to look for. In the southern interior of BC, they are present from about mid-May to the end of September, with a few birds overwintering in the most southerly areas and likely at the coast.
Here is another view of a Cedar Waxwing.
In southern BC, they generally arrive after the first week of October and have mostly departed north again by mid-April. So they arrive well after the bulk of Cedar Waxwings here have migrated south, and they depart well before the first Cedar Waxwings arrive back in the spring.