Friday, August 5, 2016

Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) - 29Jul2016

Per Wiki:  "Crossbills are characterized by the mandibles crossing at their tips, which gives the group its English name. Using their crossed mandibles for leverage, crossbills are able to efficiently separate the scales of conifer cones and extract the seeds on which they feed. Adult males tend to be red or orange in colour, and females green or yellow, but there is much variation.
In North America, nine distinct red crossbill variants (referred to as call types) differing in vocalizations as well as beak size and shape are recognized. Each call type evolved to specialize on different species of conifer."
Very cool, I should have paid attention on what type of conifer these were on.  Apparently most are Fraser Firs or Red Spruce.  
I have heard that Red Crossbills will sometimes come down to the roadways or trails to eat grit which helps to digest the seeds that they feed on.  Well last weekend I was able to witness this at the Mt Mitchell Ranger's Station.

This poor individual had Bumblefoot which is a bacterial infection that commonly affects birds.

A family unit.  The male is red, the female is orange and the juveniles look like overgrown Siskins.

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