Bombycilla garrulus pallidiceps
Status: Rare casual winter visitor statewide.
Documentation: Specimen: UNSM ZM12046, 7 Dec 1889 Lancaster Co.
Taxonomy: There are three subspecies recognized, garrulus of Eurasia, centralasiae of central and eastern Siberia, and pallidiceps of western Canada and northern and western USA (Pyle 1997, Witmer 2020).
Nebraska birds are pallidiceps.
Changes Since 2000: The frequency this species is observed in the state and its abundance in those years when present has declined. High counts noted below of hundreds in the 20th Century have not been duplicated in recent years. High counts since 2000 include 68 in Keith Co 20 Dec 2003, 66 in Keith Co 19 Dec 2004, and 24 in Garden Co 5 Feb 2023 (eBird.org, accessed 29 Aug 2023). There are only 25 additional reports in eBird since 2000 and the average number of individuals reported is 2 (range: 1-18). This species has also been reported in only five of the past ten years. Bohemian Waxwings have apparently experienced declines (Niven et al. 2004) and its wintering abundance in Idaho, for example, has waned during the period 1980-2016 (Taylor 2020).
Winter: Oct 26, 26, 31 <<<>>> Apr 8, 9, 13
Earlier dates are 25 Sep 1976 Scotts Bluff Co, Sep 1980 Dawes Co (Williams 1981) and 10 Oct 1963 Lincoln Co. A specimen, UNSM ZM6738, was collected 7 Nov.
Later dates are 28 Apr 1990 Scotts Bluff Co, 1 May 1970 Scotts Bluff Co, 3 May 1962 Dawes Co, 8 May 1958 Scotts Bluff Co, and 14 on 12 May 2004 Wildcat Hills, Scotts Bluff Co.
This species appears in large numbers in some years and is absent in others; it is generally restricted to the northwest, although, while CBC data for 1959-1988 show high densities in the Panhandle, low densities extend rather far east over the western two-thirds of the state. Since 1988 numbers have been low on CBCs, except for a small spike in 2004-2005. Rosche (1982) listed incursion years and noted that in the 1970s and 1980s birds appeared in consecutive winters and were absent in the third, a pattern which repeated itself during that time period. It was considered a “common migratory visitor” in Logan Co (Glandon and Glandon 1934).
CBCs in the northwest regularly reported Bohemian Waxwings through 1979, with high counts of 570 at Scottsbluff in 1961 and 300 at Crawford, Dawes Co 23 Dec 1978. The only CBC report since 1979 was 10 birds at Lake McConaughy, Keith Co 28 Dec 1996, until the incursion of 2004-2005, when CBCs at Scottsbluff, Crawford, and Lake McConaughy had counts of 100, 235, and 237 respectively. A total of 325 was recorded on the Harrison CBC, Sioux Co 30 Dec 2007, and eight were easterly on the Lake McConaughy CBC 29 Dec 2007.
Easternmost records are of singles with Cedar Waxwings in Lancaster Co 22 Nov 2006, Wayne Co 24 Nov 2019 (Brogie 2020), Burt Co 25 Nov 2020, Buffalo Co 12 Mar 2011, Dakota Co 31 Jan 2013, and Boyd Co 24 Feb 2013, although four were at Ponca SP, Dixon Co 14 Dec 2022. One on the Omaha CBC 30 Dec 1989 was in the Iowa part of the count circle.
Since the incursion of 2004-2005 there have been few reports, a total of 18 through May 2023, and best counts only 24 in Garden Co 5 Feb 2023 and 18 at Keystone, Keith Co 29 Feb 2007.
- High counts: 419 at Monroe Canyon, Sioux Co 21 Nov 1998, 362 at Harrison 29 Dec 1996, and 300 at Chadron, Dawes Co Feb 1986 (Williams 1986).
Tout (1947) stated that “hundreds, perhaps thousands” appeared in North Platte, Lincoln Co in Mar 1920; the winter 1919-1920 saw a major statewide invasion of this species, a flock of 75-100 reaching Dodge Co during Nov and “large flocks” were at Falls City, Richardson Co in early Feb (Swenk, unpublished MS, NOU Archives).
CBC: Christmas Bird Count
UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum
Glandon, E.W., and R. Glandon. 1934. Notes on some Logan County birds. NBR 2: 31-36.
Niven, D. K., Sauer, J. R., Butcher, G. S., & Link, W. A. 2004. Christmas Bird Count provides insights into population change in land birds that breed in the boreal forest. American Birds 58: 10-20.
Pyle, P. 1997. Identification Guide to North American Birds. Part I, Columbidae to Ploceidae. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, California, USA.
Rosche, R.C. 1982. Birds of northwestern Nebraska and southwestern South Dakota, an annotated checklist. Cottonwood Press, Crawford, Nebraska, USA.
Taylor, D.M. 2020. Winter population of waxwings in Idaho. Western Birds 51: 92-103.
Tout, W. 1947. Lincoln County birds. Published by the author, North Platte, Nebraska, USA.
Williams, F. 1981. Southern Great Plains Region. American Birds 35: 198-201.
Williams, F. 1986. Southern Great Plains Region. American Birds 40: 297-299.
Witmer, M.C. 2020. Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.bohwax.01.
Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 2023. Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus). In Birds of Nebraska — Online. www.BirdsofNebraska.org
Birds of Nebraska – Online
Updated 29 Aug 2023