|An immature, male and female White-winged Crossbill, near Anna Page Park, Rockford, IL; 2/5/2012.|
A year ago, I noticed that one of the local active birders posted a report about a small flock of White-winged Crossbills were present in some Spruce trees on a road West of Rockford. I thought, Fantastic! - White-winged Crossbills (Above) would be an addition to my life list and it wasn't more than a 15-20 minute drive from my house. So off I went. After finding the spot, I explored the area and the grove of Spruce they were observed in. After a few minutes I heard some commotion in the trees and saw a flurry of activity high in one of the Spruce. I zoomed-in on the birds which wouldn't stay still and hid themselves fairly well in the thick boughs. But I captured a few in my viewfinder long enough to identify them as the Crossbills I was hoping to see. I couldn't get a good photo as they wouldn't stay in an open spot for more than a second or two. I slowly circled he grove of trees they were feeding in, but like the good instincts of wildlife trying to protect themselves from intruders, they always kept distance and branches in between them and me. Eventually, I was on the complete opposite side of the trees than where I parked my car on the side of the road. The Crossbills sunk deeper into the center of the tree, where they were impossible to see. I made the decision to climb through the thick lower boughs to get under the tree to see if I could get a photo of one of them from the inside.
|A warp of White-winged Crossbills near Anna Page Park, Rockford, IL; 2/5/2012.|
|A female White-winged Crossbill, near Anna Page Park, Rockford, IL; 2/5/2012.|
|An immature male and female White-winged Crossbill near Anna Page Park, Rockford, IL; 2/5/2012.|
Male White-winged Crossbills have a rosy reddish head, back, and breast, with dark lores and a small collar. They also have black wings with two bold white stripes (hence its name). Females are yellowish with the same wing markings. Immature Crossbills look like females with some additional streaking on their heads, back, flanks and breasts. Immature males will start molting into their red feathers thus giving them a rather splotchy red/yellow look about them (Above left). And of course, one can't forget about their bills which sport a long curved-down upper bill which crosses over its long curved-up lower mandible.
|Another immature male White-winger Crossbill, starting to earn its red-feathered status of a male grown up, near Anna Page Park, Rockford, IL; 2/5/2012.|
|A male and female pair of White-winged Crossbills, near Anna Page Park, Rockford, IL; 2/5/2012.|
|A pair of White-winged Crossbills, near Anna Page Park, Rockford, IL; 2/5/2012.|
|A good look at the crossbill of one of the females of this species.|