White-winged Crossbill Life History


Habitat ForestsConiferous forests, especially where large crops of spruce and tamarack cones can be found.Back to top


Food SeedsConifer seeds, especially spruce and tamarack.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Tree

Nest Description

Open cup of twigs, grass stems, lichens or birch bark; lined with rootlets, lichen, bark shreds, hair, and cocoons. Well concealed in dense cover on branches of coniferous tree.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:2-5 eggs
Egg Description:Bluish green to white with dark spots or blotches around large end.
Condition at Hatching:Helpless and naked.
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Behavior Foliage GleanerHangs on cones and extracts seeds with oddly-shaped bill. Feeds in flocks. Takes grit and salt from roadsBack to top


Conservation Low ConcernWhite-winged Crossbill populations are difficult to estimate as they can be abundant in some areas in some years, but absent the next. It appears that though populations may be increasing in some areas, in other places there are declines. Overall populations appear to have been stable between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 50 million with 21% spending part of the year in the U.S., and 42% in Canada. The species rates a 7 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List.Back to top


Benkman, Craig W. 2012. White-winged Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, D. J. Ziolkowski, Jr., K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon, and W. A. Link (2017). The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966–2015. Version 2.07.2017. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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