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Cassia Crossbill

Silhouette FinchesFinches
Cassia CrossbillLoxia sinesciuris
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Fringillidae

Basic Description

The Cassia Crossbill, a finch with a crisscrossed bill, is closely related to the widespread Red Crossbill and was recognized as a full species in 2017. Unlike the nomadic Red Crossbill, the Cassia stays put year-round in a single county in Idaho, feeding on lodgepole pine cones that the Red Crossbill can't open. Groups of the red and yellow finches dangle from cones, quietly munching on seeds, until they erupt into flight with a kip. The species' small population and geographic isolation makes it vulnerable to extinction.

More ID Info
image of range map for Cassia Crossbill
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Cassia Crossbills occur only in Idaho's South Hills and Albion Mountains, so you'll have to head there to see one. Luckily, unlike other crossbills, they are year-round residents, which makes finding them a lot easier. They tend to be in older, more open patches of lodgepole pine where they can find older cones that are easier to open. Before you go, study up on their call because Cassia and Red Crossbills are best separated by voice, and even then it often requires analysis of a recording. Idaho Birds offers site-specific information on where to find Cassia Crossbills. eBird also has a primer on identifying crossbill call types.

Other Names

  • Piquituerto de Cassia (Spanish)
  • Bec-croisé de l'Idaho (French)
  • Cool Facts