With its unmistakable crossed bill which it’s named for (which on any other bird would appear to be a deformity), the beautiful Red Crossbill is found year round throughout the northwest United States, right across the northern border, into western Canada…
Like all evolutionary developments with birds, this species has evolved its amazing crossed mandibles to enable it to specialize on feeding on conifer seeds which it can access within the cones.
If the Red Crossbill has a good supply of food all year round, it may breed throughout the year in the right conditions.
You’ll have to be paying close attention to notice them nesting (always keeping a respectable distance and avoiding disturbance) – their nest is a twig cup hidden well within the foliage and lined with grass and other material.
Red Crossbill nestlings and fledglings don’t have the telltale crossed mandibles – it takes about 1.5 months for that feature to develop.
They also eat other types of seeds…. and small insects.
But it’s main food source is conifer seeds from a variety of species. You can plant conifers in your garden if you live within the range of the Red Crossbill and hope to attract this species once your trees start to produce cones.
There are many beautiful conifers to consider planting. Being familiar with native species of your region is the best place to start, as we can start to “rewild” some of what has been lost.
Conifers are stunning plants and it enhances the beauty of any garden or property to plant a number of different conifer species just from a botanical level.
Some lovely conifers that will attract the attention of Red Crossbills include:
Fast growing and a prolific seeder, this is a great species to consider planting if you want to get things moving. It’s also a stunning conifer with its feathery type foliage. This conifer is also dense enough to encourage Red Crossbills to choose it as a nest tree once it’s grown to a suitable size.