We have a 25 year old privet tree in our backyard. Up until a few days ago it was over 30 feet tall. This tree provided shade over part of our yard and deck and shelter for our backyard birds. It is near my bird feeders and the birds fly back and forth from the feeders to the tree.

Every winter the Cedar Waxwings flock to the privet tree in our backyard to devour the blue-black berries on our tree. They usually stay for only one or two days, feast, and then they are gone until the next winter. A few American Robins compete with the waxwings for the berries. I welcome the waxwings and enjoy watching them, and I’m always in awe over their beautiful plumage.

These are photos of Cedar Waxwings visiting our backyard last winter. (These photos do not do them justice.)



This tree has tiny white flowers in the spring and has a beautiful canopy shape. The birds love the abundance of berries during the winter when food is scarce.

I feel a little sad about cutting back the branches on the tree because we may not see any Cedar Waxwings this winter when they find their favorite tree has no berries. They won’t bother to stop by our yard as they search for food. I don’t know if the same birds find they way back to our tree each year or whether or not they somehow remember the tree full of berries in our backyard. This is amazing bird behavior at its best!

The one unfavorable attribute of this tree is that the berries are plentiful and have a very high germination rate. Many of the seeds drop to the ground, germinate, and begin growing into tiny little trees. They are in my lawn, my flower beds, my planters, and my garden. The only way to keep them from taking over is to pull out the little seedlings, a very time consuming task. So this fall we got out our 10 foot ladder and started sawing away at the branches. We sawed a few branches each week so we could cut up the large limbs and dispose of them and completed the task last week.  So all that remains is a trunk and several large limbs as you can see in the picture above. Leaves are already beginning to grow from the ends of the limbs so I know the tree is alive and well! Another reason for cutting back the tree over a several week period.

Here is a photo of how the berries looked on our tree. The ends of every branch were covered with berries.


I’m waiting to see if a few Cedar Waxwings wonder into our backyard this winter in seach of food. They won’t find the usual feast that they are used to finding. I’m not sure how many years until the tree begins to produce berries again. I will definitely miss seeing the flock of magnificent birds!