News blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf neighborhood

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Red Crossbills (a type of finch with, yes, crossed bills) spotted at Maple Leaf Life!

Posted by Mike on April 6th, 2013

Update Tuesday, April 9: Crossbills are still here!

For the first time in over a dozen years here, we’ve spotted male and female Red Crossbills in Maple Leaf.

They arrived on Friday, April 5th, and are still here this afternoon, at the bird feeders at 12th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 89th Street.

From the Sibley Guide to Birds, Red Crossbills are “uncommon and very irregular.”

Birds of Washington State explains:”With crossed bill tips and nimble tongues, crossbills are uniquely adapted for extracting seeds from conifer cones. ”

There have been a number of Red Crossbill sightings in the area recently.

Crossbills were seen in Des Moines earlier today, a female was seen in Wedgwood on Friday and a flock was spotted near the Woodland Park Zoo on Wednesday. (Information from bird listserve Tweeters.)

For more local information on Maple Leaf birds, click here.



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2 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Laura // Apr 7, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    We saw a female on 3/23 under our western hemlock near 100th and 15th. She stayed for a good 5 or 10 minutes, getting the seeds out of the tiny cones. We’ve been here 10 years and this is the first sighting. So beautiful!

  • 2 Lynda // Apr 11, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I started seeing these crossbills (8900 block of 12th Ave NE) at my feeder at Easter and it took me a while to identify them because all three were females which don’t have much color. Today one female was joined by a male; quite colorful! Obviously they like Audubon’s patio mix seeds when there aren’t enough cone seeds around. (n.b., in two years I have witnessed the removal of 6 huge cone bearers from immediate neighboring yards here. So much for the myth of green Seattle wanting to protect its urban canopy.)

    Editor: The crossbills are still here at 12th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 89th Street. You might be seeing juveniles; see Cornell’s description (and hear Crossbill calls) here.