12 days of a (wildlife) Christmas - Five waxwings!

Waxwing - Donald Sutherland

Christmas is in the air and here in Ipswich we’re starting to feel festive. Join our Wild Learning Officer in the run up to Christmas by celebrating some of the town’s wild spaces and species as we adapt the well-known words of 12 days of Christmas. Traditionally for the fifth day of Christmas we’d be receiving five golden rings, instead we’ve swapped them for five waxwings.

Often thought of as one of the UK’s most attractive birds, waxwings are a winter visitor arriving in the UK all dolled up with heavy eye makeup and brightly coloured wing feathers to match. Waxwings get their name, as you might have guessed, from the way their brightly coloured wing feathers look like they have a wax coating.

Visiting us from Scandinavia when numbers boom locally, waxwings spend the winter months in the UK with us hoping to get a better share of food resources here. Able to put away 800 – 1000 berries a day, which equates to roughly half their body size, waxwings can arrive in areas and strip the trees bare of their berries moving down the coast of the UK from location to location in the hunt for more. Some years we are only treated with a hundred or so visitors but in other years thousands can arrive, an event which is referred to as an irruption.

Waxwing - Jon Hawkins

Waxwing - Jon Hawkins

Feasting on berries such as rowan, hawthorn and cotoneaster waxwings love the berries on ornamental trees which are often planted in urban areas such as towns, supermarkets, out of town shopping complexes and on roadside verges in built up areas making Ipswich a perfect location to see them.

Having been spotted in good numbers in previous years at locations such as at Aldi on Hines road just off Felixstowe Road and also on Defoe Road, waxwings are just another exciting species that we have in Ipswich proving that you don’t always need to go too far to find some amazing wildlife.

If you have been considering planting a tree in your garden or green space, why not consider planting a native rowan tree which will benefit lots of different berry loving bird species? You never know, you might just be pleased to see an irruption of waxwings arrive one year!

Click here for tree planting tips