Bird Spirit Guide: Waxwings

This is the long-awaited second post in my Birds as Spirit Guides series. The first was about the Brown Creeper.

Image from whatbird.com, my favourite online bird identification tool. Check it out!

Yesterday, on my run, I saw a museum of waxwings (Bohemian, I think) in a tree while I was out running in the Weaselhead, a beautiful natural area here in Calgary. That’s right, a group of Waxwings is called a “museum” or an “earfull” but given that these birds were completely silent, I’m using the former here.

I don’t know much about waxwings aside from the fact that they’re gorgeous to look at (I’m sure my mom has taught me much more about them that I’ve subsequently forgotten), but this appearance seemed auspicious and I felt they would be a great next instalment in this series.

Well, I was not disappointed. The really wonderful thing about these birds is their social structure and practices. No matter where you read about waxwings, one thing that is sure to be mentioned is their deeply ingrained sharing customs. From an early age, they begin practicing sharing with one another. They eat mainly red berries and they love to pass them on. I read one account that said sometimes a group of the birds will sit lined up, the first one with a berry in its beak, and it will pass that berry to the next bird, who will pass it to the next, and so on to the end of the line. Their mating ritual also involves the male passing a berry to the female, her passing it back to him, and so on until she finally accepts it. From this, I would suggest that if you see a waxwing (or a museum of them!), it may be a reminder to give selflessly and not to hoard what you are fortunate enough to have.

Judy at Angels and Ancestors (who, it looks like, is also in Calgary!), writes that, “Waxwing teaches lessons around going beyond the physical demands of the body (food and shelter needs found in the base chakra) and speaks to the joy of belonging, for they belong in flocks and pairs (which is what the second and third chakras, orange and yellow in color are about), and Waxwing sings of the sweetness of life.” 

I also love that numerous entries made mention of their gender equality, with the males and females being very similar in size, with the same plumage, and sharing feeding of their young.

One very funny fact about Waxwings is that sometimes they will eat fermented berries, get drunk, and lose the ability to fly for a while. They have a reputation as party birds!

Seeing the waxwings has reminded me to reflect on my family — both blood, and chosen — and to remember to be grateful for all the amazing people in my life. I can take a look at whether I am sharing and giving without expectation. And while I may sometimes choose to take this sighting as a reminder to lighten up and have some fun, I think I spent a bit too much time on social pursuits last week, so I’m actually taking this as a reminder to slow down and not eat so many fermented berries that it prevents me from flying!

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