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Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)

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A Crossbill's Beak Does the Job

A close look at this Red Crossbill reveals a curious adaptation. The long tips of the upper and lower bill don't meet, but instead cross over each other. The Red Crossbill bites between the scales of a cone and pries them apart by opening its bill, then dislodges the seed with its tongue. Red... read more »

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Crossbills Nest in Winter

In the grips of winter, when most songbirds are months away from the breeding season, crossbills are already warming up. It’s all about the food. When the evergreens hang heavy with snow and cones, crossbills can get all the calories they need for the demands of reproduction: courtship, egg... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

When Does a Crossbill's Bill Cross?

A young crossbill starts life with a wedge-shaped beak. As it grows up and starts to feed itself by removing conifer seeds from their tough packaging, the tips of its bill begin to grow rapidly — and then they cross. By the time the bird is a month and a half old, the tips of its bill become... read more »

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