Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Red Crossbills in Goulds

Sometimes, I hunt and hunt for different species of birds; and sometimes,  I just pay attention when I am cruising. Last week while looking for the Pink-footed Goose in Goulds, I took a drive down Old Bay Bulls Road. Within minutes of entering the road, I saw a flock of juncos. My eyes followed them across the road where I saw a flash of red sitting on a power line. There sat a bright male Red Crossbill. I pulled off the road right away and scanned the area.
I spotted activity in the Mugho Pine shrub below the wire. There were more. It turned out to be four females and one male. They were busily eating the seeds in the cones.
 This year there is a very poor cone crop in the evergreen forests, but the Mugho Pine seems to be teeming with cones.  As a result, they are a big attraction to seed-eating birds. Anytime, I see one of these shrubs, I will certainly look more closely.

These female Red Crossbills watched me, but otherwise seemed very comfortable with me around. I very slowly approached the shrub and was rewarded with an excellent opportunity to observe these birds.

Considering, I was encroaching on someone's property, I took the time to speak to the owners to quiet any concerns about me being there.  I told them about the crossbills, and they seemed very interested. They saw birds in the yard but never really looked at them. They did that day.

I reviewed several years of  reports of Red Crossbills in the St. John's area through the discussion group postings. It seems that in recent years, there are less of these birds coming into the city. However, they regularly have been showing up in Goulds. Considering the limited supply of seeds in the woods, more Red Crossbills could begin appearing at feeders  around the city. I keep hoping, just maybe, they might come to mine.

This bird allowed me to get close enough to get a nearly full-frame shot. That was pretty special. I have a Mugho Pine in my front yard. First thing in the spring, I am going to fertilize it and attempt to coax it into "extreme" growth over the summer. There is no feeder like a natural feeder.

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