Cedar Waxwing has a partial preformative molt, but no prealternate molts. Some individuals with particularly few or many waxy tips on their secondaries can be aged easily, but many are intermediate in appearance may be impossible to age beyond M-FCF (U/AHY) except in summer and fall when skull ossification can be useful until around mid-October. Aside from juveniles, sex can generally be differentiated by plumage.
- Consider the overall plumage - juveniles have a whitish chin and distinct dark streaking on the underparts, whereas all older individuals have a blackish to black chin and unstreaked underparts.
- Look at the chin and throat - except for FCJ (juveniles), this area is extensively black on males, while on females the black is restricted to the chin.
- Count the number of secondaries with waxy tips - individuals with zero waxy tips are almost always FCF (HY/SY) birds; females with more than 3 waxy tips and males with more than 7 waxy tips are generally DCB (AHY/ASY); intermediate counts are inconclusive, but on average FCF (HY/SY) individuals have far fewer waxy tips.
- Estimate the width of the terminal band on the tail - it is broadest (5-9 mm) on DCB (AHY/ASY) males, intermediate (3-7 mm) on FCF (HY/SY) males and DCB (AHY/ASY) females, and narrowest (1-4.5 mm) on FCF (HY/SY) females, but there is a fair amount of overlap.
Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory (2018). Last updated by Marcel Gahbauer (Mar 2022)