Bombycilla garrulus pallidiceps

Status:  Common but highly erratic regular winter visitor northwest, uncommon casual elsewhere.

 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.

WinterOct 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 were 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. 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 10 through winter 2019-2020, and best count 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

Literature Cited

Glandon, E.W., and R. Glandon. 1934. Notes on some Logan County birds. NBR 2: 31-36.

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.

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.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen.  2021.  Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus). In Birds of Nebraska — Online.

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 17 Mar 2021