There are two species of waxwing in Montana: the Bohemian and the cedar.  The only other waxwing species is the Japanese waxwing.  Waxwings get their name from the particular shade of red on their wingtips that resembles the wax formerly used to seal documents.  The genus name, Bombycilla, means “silktail” which aptly describes the apparent texture of the birds’ feathers.  The differences between Bohemian waxwings and cedar waxwings are somewhat slight, with the primary difference being more strongly patterned wingtips on the Bohemian variety.  If you look closely at the two pictures below you can see red, white, and yellow markings on the wingtips of the Bohemian variety whereas the cedar variety has only red.  The cedar waxwings shown below were sharing a small insect as part of a courtship ritual.  Typically, waxwings will pass bits of food back and forth repeatedly to solidify their bond prior to mating. 

Cedar waxwing - Bombycilla cedrorum

Bohemian waxwing - Bombycilla garrulus

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