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Crossbill

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The Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. It breeds in the spruce forests of North America, where it is known as Red Crossbill, as well as Europe and Asia; some populations (different species?) breed in pine forests in certain areas of all three continents, and in North America, also in Douglas-fir. It nests in conifers, laying 3–5 eggs. This crossbill is mainly resident, but will regularly irrupt south if its food source fails. This species will form flocks outside the breeding season, often mixed with other crossbills.
Female Crossbill

Female Crossbill - CNI

The crossbills are characterised by the mandibles crossing at their tips, which gives the group its English name. They are specialist feeders on conifer cones, particularly the various spruce species but also some populations (different species?) in Douglas-fir and various pine species, and the unusual bill shape is an adaptation to assist the extraction of the seeds from the cone.

Adult males tend to be red or orange in colour, and females green or yellow, but there is much variation.

Plumage distinctions from Parrot and Scottish Crossbills are negligible. The head and bill are smaller than in either of the other species. Care is needed to identify this species. The glip or chup call is probably the best indicator.

GalleryEdit

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