Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Common Crossbill
Male Common Crossbill
Photography © Martin Scott
Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
9th July , 2009
"Crossbills continue to surge in
July 3rd: 3 Lionel, 9 Galson
July 4th : 2 Luskentyre, 2+ Horgabost, 98 Northton, 18 Kyles (all south
Harris), 6 Ardvoulie Castle, 100+ Aline Forest
July 6th: c.20 plantation near council offices, Stornoway still on the
7th. One of a group handed in to me that were in an Arnol garden. This
male had been attacked by a cat and died that night in care.
If anyone gets any Xbills can they keep the corpses, or at a minimum
some feathers (esp. flank feathers). There is to be a 'stable isotope'
study on them. Idea is to see where they are coming from and how this
compares to last years birds. Tapes of calls also may be handy. It has
also been noted that there is a very high percentage of red males this
time and few (none for me) juveniles."
RSPB Conservation Officer (Western Isles)
Our Common Crossbill photographs
- Common Crossbill
- Loxia curvirostra
- Gaelic: cam-ghob
- UK: Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
- UK: Summer breeding 11,000 pairs BTO
- WI: One possible breeding record. Scarce passage visitor (Very small numbers each year) except in irruption years
- Europe, Asia, North + Central America
- Habitat: Coniferous forest
- Diet: Conifer seeds. Feeds fluttering from cone to cone. Bill is an adaptation for extracting the seeds of a cone.
- Noisy, chunky finch. Large head. Bill crossed over at tip. Usually flys at treetop height coming down to drink. Adult males orange or brick-red. Females greenish-brown.
- Average lifespan 2yrs, Max recorded lifespan 8yr 4months
- Listen to a Common Crossbill (RSPB site)
- Similar birds: Scottish Crossbill (Not on Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist), Parrot Crossbill
An irruption is when finches and other seed eaters move in large numbers in search of food. If the cone crop failed on their usual breeding grounds, Crossbills may be numerous in the UK and will arrive from the Continent from late summer, often staying to breed. There are just 1 or 2 possible Western Isles breeding records.
Crossbill's breeding season lasts from summer to the next spring to take advantage of maximum cone supplies.
In a study it was found that the number of successful breeding pairs was found to be positively correlated to the number of cones read more
Common Crossbill records in the Western Isles
One possible breeding record
Scarce passage visitor (Very small numbers each year) except in irruption years
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
The chart below shows how abundant the Common Crossbill is during a month or when you are more likely to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section