Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill | Loxia curvirostra
Red Crossbill | Loxia curvirostra

Red Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) have been fairly common up in the sub-alpine this weekend. These finches are named after their very noticeable “crossed bill” which is useful for extracting seeds from conifers. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds the “bird’s biting muscles are stronger than the muscles used to open the bill, so the Red Crossbill places the tips of its slightly open bill under a cone scale and bites down. The crossed tips of the bill push the scale up, exposing the seed inside.”

I don’t have the advantage of owning a good telephoto lens but was still able to approach quite close to several birds that were picking up grit in the gravel parking lot at Paradise Meadows. They were fascinating to watch and photograph!