Common or Red Crossbill

Loxia curvirostra

The Crossbill and the Unusual Bill of this Bird

The Common or Red Crossbill, Loxia Curvirostra

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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.
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