Monday, December 31, 2012

Red Crossbills - a new Yard Bird

Lynn Davenport is the guy who got me into birding. He's also my father-in-law. Recently I was over to his house helping him replace his kitchen counter-tops. While his head and torso were wedged into the sink-base cabinet disconnecting the drains and water supply lines, I was gazing out into his backyard enjoying the birds at his feeders. There were an abundance of House Finches, Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches, Eurasian Collared-Doves, Mourning Doves, Dark-eyed Juncos, and a smattering of American Robins. There was a lot of activity and I was being well entertained.

I noticed a handful finches land at an iced-over puddle and I commented to Lynn, "You've got some really red male House Finches. There are a couple that have so much red on them that its even on the upper parts of their backs. They're almost like Vermilion Flycatchers with finch bodies. You've got to see this!" Then one turned and gave me a full view of its bill and I exclaimed "They're crossbills!!!"

Imagine a gentleman in his mid to late 60's lying on the floor, on his back, half inside a cabinet excitedly trying to scramble to his feet to see a new yard takes awhile even at full speed. By the time he was up the birds had flown and didn't show back up after a couple of disheartening minutes. Dang!

"Sometimes I have birds out front that never come around to the feeders in back" Lynn commented.

"You've got pines with cones out there too. Let's go see!" said I with renewed hope.

So out the front door we went. There were Red Crossbills everywhere...some in all of his trees. Back into the house Lynn darted for his camera...this time his speed was added by birder-adrenaline, a magical potion only known to those of us in the trade. Into my truck dashed I for my spotting scope. We spent the next several minutes enjoying this crossbill moment together. So many of them and so close too.

The top photo and the next male photo are Lynn's. The others are mine.
At one point, a male Red Crossbill flew into the tree we were standing under, within a couple feet of our faces. I snapped this photo with my iPhone, but the light was behind it.


  1. Nice shots - love the last one backlit. I am hoping for crossbills for a yard bird too, none so far.

    1. Thanks Dan! The last shot was literally just inches away from my iPhone.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Adam! Happy New Year to you and yours!

  3. Como siempre, una gozada visitar tu blog.
    Te deseo a ti a todos tus seguidores, un año 2013 muy bueno en lo que realmente importa: el amor y la alegría.
    Saludos desde Astorga.

  4. Stunning Crossbill shots! I remember the thrill of seeing my first one.