Thursday, October 11, 2012

Red Crossbill - Road Show

 It was early on a late August morning, with the blazing sun accompanied by gentle summer winds, when I decided it was a perfect morning for a drive.  While cruising down Petty Harbour Road, I spotted about 12 Red Crossbills sitting on a wire and flitting about on the trees underneath. Naturally, it was on the east side of the road with the sun creating only silhouettes. I stopped to look anyway. I got out of my car and stayed on the opposite side of the road to watch their behaviour.
What a shock when one flew over to my side of the road and rested in a low evergreen to check me out. This presented my best and closest opportunity to look at this species.
At first I thought the loose feathers around the eye meant I had a juvenile Red Crossbill in my sights. However, after reading more about this bird, I found that may not be the case. Red Crossbills are not bound by spring breeding and can breed throughout the year. This bird was surely molting. Juveniles molt between 100-110 days after hatching. As this was the end of August, if this is a molting juvenile, it would have hatched sometime in May.
Apparently, adult Red Crossbills also molt between late summer and late October.  So, it's any body's guess whether this is a molting juvenile or a molting adult.  The only thing I know for sure is that this is a molting, male Red Crossbill, and it was a beautiful specimen. What a great way to start my day!

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