I learned a couple of new words when researching Bohemian Waxwings. The first – Holarctic. This word is sometimes used to refer to plants and animals that seem to have spread around the planet during times when the Asian, European and North American continents were connected by land bridges. During these connected times, some plants and animals spread from east to west. Bohemian Waxwings and some other birds are nomads moving in this Holarctic fashion, rather than migrating north and south like so many other summer visitors. Although Bohemians breed further north, during winter they are common but unpredictable visitors, looking for sugary fruits like shriveled crab apples and winterberry.

Bohemian Waxwings (photo by Matt MacGillivray) are a lot like the smaller Cedar Waxwing that are common here in our area in the spring and summer. The Bohemian Waxwing is closer to the size of a robin compared to the smaller Cedar Waxwing. Bohemian’s bodies are a gray-brown color. They have a crest and a black mask on their face. They have a yellow band across the end of their tail that grows wider as the bird matures. Like Cedar Waxwings, Bohemians can have the red or orange drops of wax on the tips of their secondary feathers. A distinct, peach color on the forehead and under their tail is the best way to distinguish a Bohemian from a Cedar Waxwing.

Now for the second word I learned. Let me say from the outset, it has nothing to do with birds. My niece is planning her wedding for this summer, and I overheard someone say it will be “Boho-chic”. Turns out, Boho, short for Bohemian, is a fashion popular among millennials. I can’t begin to tell you what Boho-chic looks like but, upon hearing the term, I’ve decided it is a good nickname for these waxwings

Bohos, unlike Cedar Waxwings which I can find easily during the summer, are a bird I’ve never seen. This is really starting to annoy me. Especially since a number of you have bragged about seeing them. Last December, at least three people told me about a flock that hung out a few days on main street Bethel eating crab apples. Did I see them? No!

Barbara Murphy from the Mahoosuc Land Trust bragged about a flock hanging out in her yard later in the winter. Did any show up in my yard? No!

So, here’s my request. Please, please watch for this uncommon visitor, and put the word out if you see them. Maybe, just maybe you’ll help me catch a glimpse of this Holarctic Boho.

James Reddoch, of Albany Township and Boston, leads birding events for the Mahoosuc Land Trust. Visit Mahoosuc Land Trust at 162 North Road, Bethel, ME or at www.mahoosuc.org. To learn about upcoming events or to contact James, send your emails to [email protected]

Bohemian Waxwing. Matt MacGillivray

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