Waxwing

Pic: Aivar Mikko / Alamy

Pic: Aivar Mikko / Alamy

As we say every winter, surely we are due a Waxwing invasion this year! These lovely crested passerines, with the softest of plumage and the most bell-like of tinkling calls are what are known as irruptive in the their habits; they have a sort of boom and bust population. In times of successful breeding seasons in northern Scandinavia and Russia, followed by shortage of berry food in a harsh winter, they ‘irrupt’, spreading much further afield and often coming to the UK in good numbers.

Their name comes simply from the little bright red feather shafts which bulge out of the wing of adults. These red feathers look like little drops of old-fashioned sealing wax, hence the term Waxwing.