waxwing, any of three species of perching songbirds of the Northern Hemisphere. Waxwings have crests (raised only in alarm) and sleek brownish-gray plumage with flecks of red pigment resembling sealing wax on the wings and a yellow band on the tail tip. The cedar waxwing, called cherry bird and cedar bird, breeds throughout most of Canada and the United States. The Bohemian, or greater, waxwing is more northern in distribution, ranging into the United States only rarely in winter. It is found in N Europe and Asia as well as in N North America. The third species, the Japanese waxwing, is found only in NE Asia. Waxwings are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Bombycillidae, genus Bombycilla.