[Tweeters] Crossbill observations, question

Doreen Gillespie dorgilles at gmail.com
Tue Apr 16 09:29:47 PDT 2013


Just a few observations to toss out here from our "resident" crossbills--

We had a single female in the yard last year, our only sighting in three
years.

This year, we had a single female windowkill :( in February, with no
additional sightings until the warm weather in late March opened up the
cones in our pine tree. For about a week, a mixed flock of siskins and
crossbills came through every hour or so, accompanied by a ground clean-up
crew of juncos and towhees. A few days after the temps dropped and the
cones closed up, the crossbills started joining the siskins at a platform
feeder. Initially, they stopped by about every hour for 10-15 minutes, but
now I can look out almost any time and find crossbills on or near the
feeder (the feeder upgraded from a MacDonald's to a Starbucks with internet
access.....). They recently starting raiding the niger seed "sock" -- the
sock lasted two years with siskins and finches but only about 36 hours
under crossbill beaks. We have a fairly consistent flock of 7 males and
6-8? females, and they are very photogenic in the flowering prune trees.
If they are still around when the temps rise and the pine cones open again,
I'll be curious to see which food source is more appealing.

The crossbills are even more tolerant of people than evening grosbeaks and
siskins, though they tend to be better at avoiding house/window hits. I
can walk about four feet from our platform feeder without disturbing the
birds. Fortunately, they don't tend to hang out on the ground, so I
worry less about problems with neighborhood cats.

note--we are above Marymoor, so these might be a sub-flock from the birds
Michael Hobbs has been reporting since late 2012.

Does anyone have data regarding past crossbill irruption years? Going
strictly from the Marymoor reports, it sounds like Michael hasn't had
extended sightings like this string since he started his weekly walks, so
is this the first major irruption since the mid-90's, or have past
irruptions simply missed Marymoor?

Doreen Gillespie
Redmond
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