Continued from The Crossbill and the Unusual Bill of this Bird.
At a length of between 15 and 17 centimeters The
Common Crossbill, also known as the Red Crossbill (Loxia
curvirostra), is a similar size to a Skylark although is a little more
plump in body shape. The common Crossbill weighs up to 40 grams.
The plumage of the female is grey-green and the colouration of the male,
depending upon its diet, is yellow or orange to brick-red. The bird
often flies around in a wavy formation in small flocks. A Common
or Red Crossbill can reach an age of up to 15 years old.
Like other species of crossbills, who together form the Loxia genus, the Red Crossbill
lives mainly in coniferous forests, in addition, in parks situations and
gardens of central and Northern Europe as well North America and Asia.
Broods can occur the whole year round. Winter and
spring months are however preferred. The nest is built from twigs, stems,
Moss, feathers and animal hairs within the upper range of the spruces by
the female. She lays 3 to 5 white, brown-spotted eggs, which are
incubated long for 14 to 16 days. The male supplies the female with food
during this time.
The chicks become fully fledged two weeks after
hatching, and are supplied with food for a short time longer by the parents.
Even at this time the crossed points of the bill have not formed on the
young birds, but begin to show shortly after.
Initially the chicks are clothed in soft olive
feathers with faint darker stripes below and a shadowy effect on the tail
and on the longer wing feathers. Following their initial moulting
the genders can be distinguished - the female birds having a more yellowy-greenish
appearance whilst the males being more orangy-yellowish with some red.
The males eventually develop into a splendid crimsony red which in some
areas of the plumage appears alost like a fiery color. Sometimes
these colours become less startlingly bright, as has been observed in some
Common Crossbills in captivity, and can become a faded orangy colour or
again an orangy-yellow.