Red Crossbills

Last week while driving down the Crane Lake Road I found a Red Crossbill on the road. Many times you will find a flock of these birds on the roadside taking grit. They need this grit to grind up the seeds in their Gizzard. If there is a flock of Crossbills in your neighborhood, it is amazing how many times you will see the flock on the side of the road eating grit – the Pine cone seeds they eat must take a lot of grit to process.

Anyhow, this male Red Crossbill was very interested in a crack in the asphalt. I watched him for a while with my binoculars and noticed that he didn’t appear to be picking up grit. By the way he was tilting his head, it appeared that he was sharpening his beak. These birds have a unique crossed bill for extracting seeds out of cones. Amazing!

A couple years ago a flock of Red Crossbills came into the feeders. They stuck around for about a week eating sunflower seeds and then they were gone. I haven’t seen them at the feeders since. But usually they are easy to find, just look for a stand of mature Red Pine.

Red Crossbill

Another red bird that brightens our winter landscape up here in the northland. Their cousins the White-winged Crossbill also occurs in this area.

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