IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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Loxia leucoptera

A medium-sized (6-6 ¾ inches) finch, the White-winged Crossbill is most easily identified by its black wings with white wing bars, short black tail, and oddly-shaped bill. Males’ bodies are pinkish-red, while female Red Crossbills are streaky brownish-yellow on the back, head, and face. This species is most easily distinguished from the related Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) by its white wing bars and larger size. The White-winged Crossbill inhabits a large area of the Northern Hemisphere. In the New World, this species breeds across Alaska, Canada and the northern United States. This species’ range extends south at higher elevations in the western U.S. as far south as New Mexico. In the Old World, this species breeds across Siberia. White-winged Crossbills may wander widely during winter, and in some years northern populations may move south in large numbers as far as the central U.S. and Western Europe. White-winged Crossbills inhabit evergreen forests with trees that produce cones. This species almost exclusively eats seeds taken from these cones, and its strangely-shaped bill is specially adapted to cracking open cones to extract seeds. White-winged Crossbills eat seeds from a number of evergreen species, although they prefer spruce and larch cones. In suitable habitat, White-winged Crossbills may be observed feeding on cone seeds while perched on branches or hanging upside-down from the cone. When moving from tree to tree, this species undertakes short, undulating flights through the canopy. White-winged Crossbills are most active during the day.


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© Smithsonian Institution

Supplier: Robert Costello


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