Rehabbing Injured Fledgling Cedar Waxwing

by Deborah Berry

Rehabbing Cedar Waxwing

My daughter works at a busy canoe livery where they found a young Cedar Waxwing on July 3.

A fledgling, he was on the ground in distress with an injured, curled-up foot and possibly wounded wing.

Buster as an adult waxwing

Waxwing Buster When Visiting State Park July

It's a busy place with people and dogs running about so leaving him to lie there was not an option.

When they first found him he was pretty shaken up and singing unhappily.

She snugged him into a little nest size box and kept him in a quiet place until she finished work.

She and several customers attempted to locate the nest and listen for other Cedar Waxwing calls to no avail.

That evening he ate bits of fresh cherry from our fingers and began singing a little more normally.

He turns his attention to my daughter when he hears her voice.

We're hoping to keep him safe and alive through the night and will take him to a friend who is a state park naturalist tomorrow.

He's a beautiful, personable little bird and we'll do what we can to help him survive.

As fun as it might be to keep him, we would do him a great injustice.

July 4
We visited the naturalist today who gave us advice on how to care for the bird, and a better cage for him (we were keeping him and his 'nest' under a laundry basket).

Since the nature center is not open every day and the bird needs to be fed almost constantly they allowed us to keep Buster for rehabilitation.

He got away from us once and perched in a pine tree, but came back when he got hungry.

Since my daughter is a busy 16-year-old with a job and a boyfriend, I have become the surrogate mother.

July 9
We've been nursing 'Buster', as we now call him, for 6 days, under the supervision of a state park naturalist.

Fortunately, Buster's wing was not injured. Unfortunately, his injured foot is a real handicap for him.

It prevents him from landing safely when flying unless he lands on a large surface.

The foot is curled under the fore joint, resulting in twisted claws that are useless and a knob that is a bit slippery.

He'd probably be better off without the foot entirely.

He eats voraciously - blueberries, raspberries, bits of tomato, and worms. He's noisy and as happy as a bird in a cage can be.

I've let him fly in the bathroom - he lands well on the curtain because he can catch himself in the fabric; the shower rod - not so well.

He has smacked into the wall a few times and went sliding down, fortunately, he hasn't hurt himself.

Buster has developed the habit of giving his berry back to me.

We'll pass it back and forth, much to my frustration sometimes, until I tire of the game or he finally eats it.

It turns out this is normal behavior, as these birds are known for passing food around to each other until someone finally eats it.

Now, instead of getting aggravated, I'm glad that he's exhibiting this behavior and encouraging it.

We're trying to get him to look for food by leaving berries in the bottom of his cage.

He stubbornly refuses and I can't let him go hungry for too long.

I guess it's like weaning a baby.

I plan to put some grasses and tiny twigs in his cage today to encourage nest building.

Add Your Comments Below

See Also:

Cedar Waxwing Habits

Larry, My Baby Cedar Waxwing

Comments for Rehabbing Injured Fledgling Cedar Waxwing

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Jul 23, 2023
Will Your Waxwing Find Others
by: Gene

Hi Mary,

First, nice job on the rescue of the baby waxwing. Whether it can find others I don't know. But if it can find food I think it will do well. Thanks again.

Jul 23, 2023
About to Release My Cedar Waxwing
by: Mary

Two weeks ago I found three Cedar Waxwing fledglings on the ground in my yard.

One was dead, one was weak and the other looked healthy. The second one died that day.

I left the third one in case the parents were around for 5 hours. Long story short, I have cared for "Willow" for two weeks now.

She is thriving, starting to eat on her own, flying. I have never seen a Waxwing around here before.

I'm close to letting her go but will she find her own kind?

Jul 06, 2012
my cedar waxwing
by: Anonymous

I found a cedar waxwing with the same situation...I have been feeding her but I don't know what to give her to drink.

Can you help me? do they drink water? do they get the fluids from the food?

Jul 14, 2010
July 14 Update
by: Anonymous

Buster is being stubborn. The nest-building thing eludes him, but that may be something that comes with mating.

Finally, today I have gotten him to seek food within his cage.

I've left berries and pieces of tomato for over a week with no success.

Today I hung two black cherries in his cage.

All day he ignored them, even though they were practically dangling in his face when on his favorite perch by the cage door.

I've been deliberately allowing him to go for an hour between feedings the past two days in order to get him to eat the food in front of him.

That's been tough, real tough - I had to move his cage into another room because his begging was driving Hubby crazy!

Finally, I tore open one of the cherries and pressed it towards his mouth as he was squawking for food to be put into it. He refused.

I tried a few times then walked away.

Next time I checked on him half the cherry was gone!

It looks just like they do when the birds rob a tree! Yayyy! I'm teaching Buster to be a fruit thief!!!!!

As much as I adore this little bird, I know he's not a pet.

I have deliberately not handled him as much the past couple of days, and he has noticed.

I gave in and held him last night and he immediately calmed down and contentedly closed his eyes. Sigh. So sweet. But not good for a wild animal.

I have to restrain myself from doing that anymore.

That may sound mean, but I want him to SURVIVE on his own.

Jul 10, 2010
by: Marianne

What an absolutely wonderful story. You are a God send for Buster and I am so glad you found each other.

He's a trooper and I hope he continues to do well and lives a long and very happy, healthy life.

Thank you for taking such good care of him - you are special.

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