Saturday, November 17, 2012

White-Winged Crossbills

George and I headed up to Salisbury Beach State Reservation in Salisbury, MA in hopes of getting a look at the crossbills which have been voraciously feeding on the pinecones at the campground there.  There were still quite a few photographers around, so I knew it was going to be easy to spot them.  Bonanza!  It was very exciting, particularly one tree which was covered in crossbills, with some even dropping down to feed on the driveway or car under the tree!

For those who aren't familiar with this bird, it eats the seeds from pinecones.  It is not commonly seen in  these parts, but because Canada had a bad pine cone crop this year, they have come south looking for food.  Salisbury seems to be a hot spot right now, although several photographers were saying that there are far fewer there today than last week or the week before.  Two coopers hawks were hunting, so I think they have thinned the flock and/or scared them to other parts.

I have complained before about birds whose names do not make sense (like Red-Bellied Woodpecker, for example), but this bird is well-named.  Instead of its bill meeting at the tip like most birds, the upper and lower parts of this bird's bill cross at the tip.  If you look closely at some of these photos, you will be able to see it.  This helps them to harvest the seeds out of some very tight pine cones.  A survival mechanism!

Click on any photo for an enlargement.  I apologize for not being able to narrow these down more!  I really like these birds!

Three White-Winged Crossbills (two males below and a female above)

Another bird not commonly seen in these parts and here for the same reasons was also among the pine trees of the campground - the Red-Breasted Nuthatch.

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

White-Winged Crossbill (male)

Sitting right at the top of the tree, looking regal

Juvenile Crossbill

I was standing next to this tree photographing another tree that was literally filled with crossbills, when this male flew into the tree next to me and was nearly close enough to touch.

Female White-Winged Crossbill


Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Juvenile Crossbill

Juvenile White-Winged Crossbill

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Just across the road from the campground is a boardwalk over the dunes to the beautiful Atlantic.  It was high tide and the beach was really narrow!

Oh, I forgot to mention that White-Winged Crossbills are a life bird!!!!!

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