Waxwing, a name applied to birds of the genus ampelis (Linn.) or oorribycilla (Vieill.), derived from the appendages at the ends of some of the secondaries and tertiaries, which in color and texture resemble small pieces of red sealing wax; these are horny expansions of the shafts, and are found in both sexes. This group, which embraces two North American species, has by some been placed among the chatterers; Cabanis makes them a subfamily of the flycatchers, and Baird elevates them into a family (ampelicloe), coming near the shrikes in the notch of the lower mandible. The gape is very wide, but without bristles; bill short, broad at the base, compressed, and notched at the tip in both mandibles; wings long, broad, and pointed, with ten primaries, the first rudimentary and the second the longest; tail short and even; tarsi short, toes long, and claws curved and sharp. Unlike the chatterers, they are silent birds, and are found only in cold regions. The Bohemian waxwing or chatterer (A. garrulus, Linn.) is a handsome bird, about 8 in. long and 12½ in. in alar extent; the color is a general reddish gray, with a large patch on the throat and band on forehead black; crest and lower tail coverts brownish orange; primaries, secondaries, and tail tipped with yellow; two white bands on the wings; lower parts silvery gray.
It is found in the extreme northern portions of America, Europe, and Asia, migrating to temperate latitudes in winter, being most common in the United States about the great lakes and the valley of the northern Mississippi. The epithet Bohemian is a misnomer, as they are no more abundant in Bohemia than in the more northern parts of Europe; they live principally and breed within the arctic circle. The food consists of berries of all kinds, especially of the mountain ash, hawthorn, ivy, and juniper; and they occasionally take insects, after the manner of the flycatchers. (See also Cedar Bird).
Bohemian Waxwing (Ampelis garrulus).