|Conservation status||Although Red Crossbills as a group are widespread and common, some of the forms (or evident species) are localized, specialized, and vulnerable to the loss of their particular habitat.|
|Habitat||Conifer forests and groves. Seldom found away from conifers. Depending on region of continent, may breed mainly in pines, or may be in spruce, hemlock, Douglas-fir, or other evergreens. Different races may favor different forest types. Wandering flocks may appear in plantings of conifers in parks or suburbs well away from usual range.|
Typically forages by clambering about over cones in evergreens. Forages in flocks. Different forms of Red Crossbill specialize on different kinds of conifers, with large-billed birds often choosing trees with larger cones.
3-4, sometimes 5, rarely 2. Pale greenish white or bluish white, with brown and purple dots mostly concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by female, 12-15 days. Male feeds female during incubation. Young: Female spends much time brooding young at first, while male brings food for them and for her; later, both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 18-20 days after hatching.
Female spends much time brooding young at first, while male brings food for them and for her; later, both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 18-20 days after hatching.
Mostly seeds of conifers. Seeds of pines and other conifers are favored foods whenever available. Also eats buds of various trees, seeds of weeds and deciduous trees, some berries, insects. Much attracted to salt. Young are fed regurgitated seeds.
Timing and distribution of nesting are quite irregular, the birds often breeding when cone crops are best. In many regions, nesting is typically in winter or spring, but may be at practically any season (except perhaps in mid to late fall). In courtship, male may perform flight song display, and may feed female. Nest: Placed on a horizontal branch in conifer, often well out from trunk, usually 10-40' above ground but can be lower or much higher. Nest (built by female) is a bulky open cup, loosely made of twigs, bark strips, grass, rootlets, wood chips, lined with fine grass, moss, lichens, feathers, hair.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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No regular migration, but most populations are nomadic, moving about in response to changes in food supplies. Apparently does most traveling by day. Most of southernmost records (and most lowland records in West) are during winter.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
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Songs and CallsSong chipa-chipa-chipa, chee-chee-chee-chee; also a sharp kip-kip-kip.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Red Crossbill
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Red Crossbill
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.