Where to see waxwings

Wandering waxwings

©Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photography

Where to see waxwings

With a magnificent crest, a liberal dose of black eyeliner and dazzlingly bright flashes of yellow, waxwings are considered one of the most beautiful birds to be seen in the UK. They're winter visitors, travelling here from Scandinavia when the food supply there runs low. Some winters there are only a hundred or so across the UK, but in other years they arrive in their thousands - an event known as an irruption. 

Waxwings get their name from the bright red tips to some of their wing feathers, which look like drops of sealing wax

Find waxwings

The first waxwings of the winter are often seen in October, usually in the north of the UK and along the east coast. In irruption years the main arrival typically comes in November or later, with birds filtering slowly through the UK and forming flocks where they find suitable food.

How to do it

Waxwings are partial to the colourful red and orange berries of ornamental trees, which can often be found in city centres, supermarket car parks and out-of-town shopping areas - not your typical birdwatching destinations! Rowan berries are a favourite of theirs, so check any trees in your neighbourhood to see if they've attracted one of these beautiful northern nomads. And don't forget to look up when doing the weekly shop!

Waxwings have a distinctive call: a pleasant, rolling trill like the tinkling of a small bell. Listen out and the sound might lead you to a flock, or draw attention to a bird passing overhead.

If you can't get there

If you've got a garden, try planting some berry trees or bushes. Lots of garden birds will appreciate the winter food supply, and you might even attract your very own waxwings.

More wildlife experiences

From tracking down our largest and most elusive finch, to watching dozens of pied wagtails gather to roost, winter is full of wonders. We can help you get closer to wildlife across the UK.