Red Crossbill
Loxia curvirostra
The Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) is typically a bird of pine, spruce or fir forests in the Rocky Mountains and Canada. During some winters, however, they are known to move southward in large numbers and can show up in very unusual and unexpected places. The female-plumaged bird shown in the first seven shots on this page was feeding on thistle seeds along the roadside in Hansford Co., in the Texas Panhandle, in February, 1997, and represented the first county record. It was photographed from a car window with a Canon F-1 camera and a Sigma 500 mm F/4.5 lens and 1.4X extender on Fuji Sensia film. The unique "crossbills" can be seen well in several of these photos.
The male at right was also part of this same "invasion" into the Texas Panhandle in February, 1997. The male was in Stafford, Sherman Co., Texas and was photographed with the same equipment. I was fairly distant from the male, so this shot was cropped significantly which results in a more grainy image, but it is one of only a few shots I had of a male Red Crossbill when I originally posted this page.
The male Red Crossbill on the right was near Echo Lake, Clear Creek Co., Colorado, in June, 2007. This image was taken with a Canon EOS 1D Mark III and EF 600mm F/4 L IS lens and 2X extender.
The female Red Crossbill on the right was in Cave Creek Canyon, Cochise Co., Arizona, in May, 2008. This shot was taken with a Canon EOS 1D Mark III and EF 600mm F/4 L IS lens and 1.4X extender.
The next 19 images of Red Crossbill were taken in Breckenridge, Summit Co., Colorado in July, 2008. At this late summer season many of these birds are moulting so they are a little ragged looking, but still show interesting plumages. The first three shots on the right show a moulting male.
The next 6 shots show other males which have not yet started their moult.
The moulting male on the right shows the unique bill open, while the female in the following three shots posed nicely on a pine limb.