© Copyright: Images: Jarmo Jutlila, Mervi Wahlroos, M. & W. von Wright (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Parrot Crossbill

Loxia pytyopsittacus

  • Family: Finches – Fringillidae
  • Appearance: The largest of the crossbills. Difficult to distinguish from the slightly smaller Crossbill, though crossed bill appears larger and stronger. Male brick red, female yellowish green, juveniles brownish grey with prominent streaking.
  • Size: Length 16–18 cm, weight 50–62 g.
  • Nest: Near the top of a pine or spruce tree, usually quite far from the trunk at a height of 3.5–14 metres. Outer layer made of pine or spruce twigs and beard lichen, middle layer of decaying wood fragments and moss, inner lining made of grass, beard lichen, bark fragments and feathers.
  • Breeding: 3–5 eggs laid January–March, incubated by female for 14–16 days. Female fed by male during incubation. Fledglings remain in nest for 25 days.
  • Occurrence: Breeds in Finland. Both sedentary and migratory. Abundant in pine forests when cones are plentiful, but may be absent when cones are scarce, when birds roam to other regions in search of cones. Can also be seen in spruce forest when roaming. Finnish breeding population estimated at 10,000–100,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Birds regularly roam soon after the breeding season in March and also in autumn between August and October, but also at other times. In autumn they mainly roam southwestwards, sometimes as far as Central Europe. Wintering numbers in Finland vary greatly according to the availability of food.
  • Diet: Pine seeds, also sometimes spruce seeds.
  • Calls: Song pleasant and varied, difficult to recognise. Flight call “kip, kip” harsher than call of Crossbill.

Crossbills can be recognised by the unusual shape of their beaks, which have crossed tips. Parrot Crossbills are best distinguished by the thicker shape of their bills, which have a wide and high base and curve with a parrot-beak-like profile and a robust lower mandible that bulges in the middle. Males have brick red plumage, females are yellowish green. Young birds are brownish grey with dark streaking all over their plumage. Birds in transitional plumage are only partially streaked and have patches of reddish or greenish plumage according to their gender. Parrot Crossbills have dark brown legs, beaks and irises.

Crossbills and Parrot Crossbills are very hard to distinguish. Some may only be identified by measuring the ratio between the length and thickness of their bills. Both species feed in both pine trees and spruce trees.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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