Bombycilla garrulus


A starling-sized bird, the waxwing is one of Britain's most exotic-looking birds with its large, orangey-pink crest. The waxwing does not breed in the UK but is a winter visitor from Northern Europe and can be spotted in flocks on bushes full of berries - it's not fussy where the bushes are and frequents towns, car parks and gardens. Waxwings prefer rowan and hawthorn berries, but can be enticed with hung-up apples. Sudden invasions of large numbers of waxwings (irruptions) occur when the berry crops fail in Northern Europe.

How to identify

Unmistakeable: the waxwing has a pink crest and breast, a black mask and throat, grey rump, black tail tipped with bright yellow and yellow and white markings on its wings.

Where to find it

A rare winter visitor which can turn up anywhere, particularly in the north and east of the country.


When to find it

  • October
  • November
  • December
  • January
  • February
  • March

How can people help

To encourage waxwings and other birds into the garden in winter, plant berry-producing bushes like hawthorn and put out different kinds of bird food. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started. To buy bird food or feeders, visit the Vine House Farm website - an award-winning wildlife-friendly farm which gives 5% of all its takings to The Wildlife Trusts.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Bombycilla garrulus
Thrushes, chats, flycatchers, starling, dipper and wren
Length: 18cm Wingspan: 34cm Weight: 63g
Conservation status
Common visitor.