I couldn’t believe it when I saw 3 unfamiliar birds mixed in with the usual feeder birds.
There were 3 White-winged Crossbills visiting the platform feeder along with the Redpolls and Pine Grosbeak.
They look very similar to a Pine Grosbeak, but they’re about 2/3 the size.
The White-winged Crossbill is much more colorful than their cousin, the Red Crossbill.
Red Crossbills are more of a brick red color – the White-winged is the same red color as a Pine Grosbeak. All these birds are of the Finch family and they mostly eat seeds year round.
Both species of Crossbill are unique in that the upper and lower mandibles of their beak actually cross, as you can see in this photo. This adaptation makes extracting seeds out of cones easier.
In fact, I’ve read, that some Crossbills’ beaks cross from right to left, while others’ cross left to right. Some are left-handed and use their left foot to hold the cone and aid them in their extraction, whereas some would be deemed right-handed as their bill crosses the opposite way and they use their right foot to hold the cone.
The female is an interesting color, kind of a rusty red and very streaky.
Both sexes have the broad white wing bars and white tips on the tertial feathers.
The White-winged Crossbill at the back of this photo who has his back to the camera shows the white tertial tips. They look, to me, like buttons on a vest.