Bird Population Studies
Living Bird Magazine
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A gem of the northern woods, White-winged Crossbills often first appear as a bounding, chattering flock moving between spruce trees. Rose-pink males and greenish females and immatures spend most of their time prying into spruce cones with their twisted bills. Flocks work around treetops animatedly, hanging upside down like parrots, challenging others that come too close, then abruptly flying off to the next tree. They also descend to the ground to gather grit for digestion or to feed on fallen cones.More ID Info
White-winged Crossbills are an irruptive species, meaning that, when cone crops fail in their normal range, they can move far to the south. In some years they show up in late autumn and early winter in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. Look (and listen) for them in coniferous forests, particularly spruce and tamarack, less often in fir and hemlock. Ornamental spruces planted in cemeteries and parks often attract winter wanderers, and they also sometimes show up at feeders.