Waxwings in Blackburn

Date: 2014-01-13 11:28:51 | Category: Bird Watching | Author: Neill Hunt
Waxwing invasions have become a fairly regular occurrence over the past few years, 2012-2013 was a particularly good period with many thousands reaching the UK. In 'good' years birds start to arrive from October and generally come in from the North and filter down into the rest of the country.

Waxwings in Blackburn

Waxwings are a favourite bird of most birdwatchers, the combination of looks, colours, call and unpredictability make them a great bird to see. 2012/2013 was a fantastic winter for these birds, but what factors promote an invasion year?

When we look back at good Waxwing years there are many factors that are common to each year. 1st of all you need a lot of birds for a successful invasion and what we see is that in the classic years the Waxwings have had a really good breeding season and therefore there are plenty of birds. Next we need a lack of food.

Waxwings are predominantly Fruit Feeders, so when there's a poor harvest of berries, the birds need to move in order to find new food sources. I would think that the main reasons for invasion years is the weather. Looking back at the last couple of years our winters have been pretty bad, and that is the Key.

When we experience severe winters here, the weather in fenno Scandinavia is so much colder, the lack of food and the freezing weather drives the birds west and eventually to the UK were the birds can find food for the winter. The good thing about 'Waxwing food' is that it is pretty much available in every town and city in the country. One of the Waxwings favourite fruit is the Rowan berry and lucky for them the Rowan is commonly planted by local councils as a decorative tree in many shopping areas and city streets. Each year the UK is full of Rowan trees, with berries, waiting for the first Waxwings of the winter.

This year has been slow, the weather here and on the continent has been reasonably mild and therefore the Waxwings have had no real reason to move, however as in most years some birds make the journey anyway... a sign of things to come? I don't think so. As we are already half way through is winter I would predict they will remain a fairly thin on the ground this season.

Waxwings in Blackburn

I photographed these birds in Blackburn, at Weir Street on Sunday, notice the Rowan berries. This particular area of Blackburn has a long history of Waxwing occurrences and it's probably due to these very trees. These 4 birds are the first birds in Lancashire this winter, but I'm sure a few more will arrive in the coming weeks. Not an invasion but more like a trickle, so grab your binoculars, grab your camera and go bird watching. There are a few dotted around the country and probably few more that haven't been found yet...check all ornamental berry trees, Rowans, Cotoneaster, Hawthorn and Holly, you never know.

If you are lucky enough to find any, share your sightings with us via
Neill@twootz.com and we will let others know about your findings.

Happy birding.