[Tweeters] red crossbills

tomboulian at comcast.net tomboulian at comcast.net
Sat Jun 5 14:06:13 PDT 2021

This is definitely a red crossbill year here in the lowlands. In my Shoreline neighborhood I have two small flocks that rapidly rotate through the high conifers and then come down for a drink at my bird fountain. This is the time of year I generally get them, though not always in good numbers, when last year’s cones are maturing and easy to extract seeds from. They are everywhere right now; the Highlands neighborhood, which is mostly forested, has flocks of 30 or more crossing all day long. Don’t know how long they’ll stick around. Sometimes cavorting with Purple and house finches, siskins, and goldfinches—I had all 5 at once this week.

I have a crossbill question. I know there are up to 10 types, mostly separated by voice or extreme visual differences. There is a 30-50% size difference between the smallest ones at my fountain (siskin-sized), and the larger ones (house finch size), and I’m not finding a good reference as to whether size can be indicative of type. I don’t do sonograms (yet?). It would seem that hemlock type 3 might easily be smaller than Douglas Fir type 4 based purely on the size of the food item. The birds I hear seem to all be similar in sound, but I’m just getting this one aurally ingrained.

Mark Tomboulian

Shoreline, WA
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