White-winged Crossbills

White-winged Crossbill

The past few days there have been White-winged Crossbills in the Spruce trees at Nelson’s Resort. These birds may look at first like a small version of a Pine Grosbeak, but if you can get a closer look you will see their beaks are very unique. The two mandibles (the upper and lower parts of the bill) actually cross! They use this very specialized beak to extract the seeds from the cones of the Spruce trees.

Female and juveniles are a drab streaky brown color, but the males are a colorful red and they both have 2 white bars on their wings.

Their chattering calls are a sign that they are in the area. Crossbills are wanderers and you never know when they may show up. Although a healthy cone crop usually is a good sign that they will invade the area. White-winged Crossbills are known to nest at any time of the year, even in winter! If there is a good food source they will stay in the area and nest.

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