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What food can I put out for waxwings?

Sent in by Keith Grey, Northumberland

Although waxwings are birds that many people watch out for each winter, they don't always appear. This winter though is shaping up to be a waxwing one with thousands of them arriving here since the autumn. 

Stunning birds, they feed almost exclusively on berries and can eat vast numbers - how about a thousand cotoneaster berries in one day! 

This does work in our favour though, as they frequently turn up in unlikely places such as supermarket car parks and town centre squares;the attraction being the landscaping of these otherwise barren areas which includes attractive berry-bearing bushes.  They feed, we birdwatch whilst shopping.

Clearly the best way to attract them is to plant this type of shrub - holly, ivy, hawthorn, pyracantha, cotoneaster - and sorbus, of course - are great and help many other birds too.  It has always been thought difficult to attract waxwings to food we supply but apples will probably do the trick.

Some lovely pictures, taken on Fair Isle, showed waxwings feeding on apples, which had been halved and impaled on twigs. At the time the twigs were being held by a young lad who had excellent close up views of these amazing birds.  Sounds like apples are well worth a try. 

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