Crossbills: One of a Kind in the World

by Pat Jaquith

A few of the flock of Red Crossbills at their daily visit for water 10.02.2020

The only species in the world with crossed bills and many other unique traits that are under scientific scrutiny, Crossbills visit our valley sometimes during periods of heavy cone crops on our Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine trees. Though I rarely saw them feeding on cones during the summer of 2020, a flock of Red Crossbills and Pine siskins made daily visits to our yard for water. The rustle of taffeta petticoats alerted me to their arrival as they landed in the larch trees behind the water pans by the garden. The brown-striped attire of juvenile Crossbills gave me some difficulty distinguishing them from the ever-present Pine Siskins when many of them landed in the water pan at once! Read on for more about these colorful, entertaining, unique birds!

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