White-winged Crossbill

White-winged Crossbill
Loxia leucoptera
Family: Fringillidae

The White-winged Crossbill is a rich carmine inclining to crimson, dark reddish-brown feet, dusky feathers and tail, two broad bands of white on wing bars, and sides brownish. The female has dusky upper parts, yellowish-grey lower parts streaked dusky, the wings and tail are the same as the male, but paler and white wing bars. The young resemble the female, but the lowers parts are a dull yellowish-grey spotted and streaked with dark brown. After the first moult, the male still resembles the female, but is more yellow. At the second moult, it acquires the red color which becomes richer. The length of this bird is anywhere from 6-6 1/2" with a wingspan of 10-11".

The southward migration of the White-winged Crossbill, is extremely irregular. Being hardy birds, they appear to prefer the northern climates, and then migrate only during the most severe cold. The comparatively small number that spend the year, may be forced to do so by wounds or other accidents. The habits of the White-winged Crossbill are in general similar to those of other common species. Its flight is well sustained and undulated; it is easily approached, is fond of saline substances, uses its bill and feet in the manner of Parrots, and procures its food from the cones of pines.

These birds are mostly seen on the upper branches of the trees. In September it collects in small flocks, which fly from tree to tree, making a chattering noise.


The song of the White-winged Crossbill is similar to the American Goldfinch that sounds like sweet-sweet-sweet. In flight, the song is like a sharp, vigorous chif-chif.


Northern Alaska, south to North Oregon and North New Hampshire. Winters in Colorado and North Carolina.


The nest is of grass, mud, twigs and feathers about midway up pine trees, especially spruces. The entrance to the nest is from the top and is anywhere from 5-60 feet above ground. Throughout the months of April-July, as many as 4-6 eggs are laid. The eggs are off white to pale blue and speckled with brown. The eggs take anywhere from 14-15 days to hatch.

Natural Feeding Habits:

This birds diet consists of insects, seeds of conifers, cottonwood, birches, sunflower, huckleberry and black alder.

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