White-winged Crossbill

photo by Phil Swanson

Loxia leucoptera
L 6 1/2″ (17 cm).

Song or calls:
Soft “twee” or harsh “cheet cheet.” Song is variable canary-like warbling with trills.

Description: Bill with crossed tips. Black wings with white-tipped tertials and two broad, bold white wing bars; dark tail. Adult male is bright pink overall. Immature male is mostly yellow, with patches of red or pink. Adult female is mottled with yellowish-olive or gray above; pale yellow rump; grayish-olive underparts; and yellow wash on breast and sides. Juvenile is heavily streaked with brown, and has thinner wing bars.

Food: More dependent on spruce cones than the Red Crossbill, and less dependent on pine cones.

Habitat: Found primarily in coniferous forests or plantations throughout the year.

Where in Nebraska: Rare and irregular spring migrant and winter visitor, mostly in eastern Nebraska. Has been seen west to Scotts Bluff County.

Field Notes: Like the Red Crossbill it wanders widely and irregularly in search of cones.

Fun Facts: An individual can consume up to 3,000 conifer seeds a day.

White-winged Crossbill - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)