Red Crossbill is primarily a denizen of conifer forests due to its strong
preference for conifer seeds. However, flocks can be highly nomadic,
especially in winter. While normally frequenting the northern U.S.,
higher elevations of the western U.S., and Canada, individual flocks may
disperse widely in the winter, moving long distances to the south, east, and
towards lower elevations. They have odd nesting habits, and will nest
in nearly any season if sufficient food items are available. A male is
depicted in the photo on the right. More photos of both males and
females can be found on the bottom of the page.
are rarely found long distances from conifer trees. Nomadic flocks may
appear in suburban areas in winter, however, frequenting feeders.
Diet: Primarily feeds on the seeds of
conifers. Will also eat other seeds, tree buds, berries, and occasionally
Behavior: Usually forages in flocks in the foliage
of conifers, climbing over cones and extracting seeds.
Nesting: Highly irregular
nesting, with dates often timed to concur with best availability of cone
crops. Has been known to breed in almost any season.
Song: Song is a series of short phrases with
interspersed call notes. Song depends upon race/sub-species, with
distinct songs for each of 9 possible sub-species.
Migration: Generally a semi-permanent resident in much of its
range. However, individual groups can be highly nomadic, and long distance
dispersion the the south, east, and into lowland areas can occur in the
winter. Only commonly seen outside the Black Hills during the winter.
Bird Feeders: Will attend feeders for sunflower seeds, occasionally for
Conservation Status: Generally stable throughout their normal range.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Red Crossbill"
Photo Information: June 17th, 2008 - Near Trout
Lake in Washington - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Red Crossbill photos.