White-winged Crossbills are true nomads, wandering in large
flocks throughout much of the boreal Northern Hemisphere. While normally
found in Canada and Alaska, in the winter, irregular irruptive migrations may
bring large flocks deep into the continental United States. Their unusual
crossed bills are extremely effective at opening their favorite food item, the
seeds of spruce trees.
Habitat: Nearly always found in conifer forest.
Breeding usually occurs in forests with high densities of spruce trees.
Diet: Primarily feeds on spruce seeds if they area
available. They will also feed on seeds of other conifers, tree buds,
berries, other seeds, and insects.
Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota
Song: Variety of musical chattering and warbling.
Migration: They can be found in all seasons
throughout much of Canada, Alaska, and New England. While not
strictly migratory, individual flocks will sometimes move great distances in
winter in the search for food, and could possibly be found nearly anywhere
(in the proper habitat) in the northern half of the U.S. in winter.
Bird Feeders: Will come to feeders for sunflower
Conservation Status: Difficult to monitor
populations because of irregular migration habits, but it's thought numbers
rise and fall with the availability of conifer seeds. There are no major
conservation concerns with the species, however, and it is listed as a species
of "Least Concern" by the IUCN.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology - White-winged Crossbill
Photo Information: February 5th, 2012 - Mount Pleasant
Cemetery in Sioux Falls, South Dakota - Terry Sohl