Date: 3/17/17 6:56 am
From: Bill Whan <billwhan...>
Subject: [Ohio-birds] Crossbills?
I'm curious to know if anyone has seen crossbills in Ohio this season. I
don't recall any recorded reports from last winter, either. FYI below
are central Ohio records taken from my book on the region's birds going
way back...
Bill Whan

Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra. Rare and seemingly more erratic than
the following species, in cold weather, with a few interesting
occurences in other seasons as well. Wheaton wrote: “I saw a specimen
said to have been taken in this vicinity in the winter of 1859-60,” and
noted the acquisition, via Oliver Davie, of “a male shot with a pistol
by C. Hinman from a flock of 8-10 in conifers in his Columbus garden” on
the intriguing date of 18 June 1878 (Wheaton 1879:62), now OSUM #2162,
which A. R. Phillips (tag data) identified as L. c. neogaea. Three were
at Green Lawn Cemetery 12/18/1925 with siskins (Thomas 1926). OSUM
#10234 is a window-kill, its crop filled with pine seeds, from 4/2/1964
(CD 4/20/1964) on Hamilton Road, which three different crossbill experts
have identified variously as L. c. pusilla, L. c. benti, and L. c.
neogaea on museum tags. Subsequent studies have found that differences
in calls, rather than plumage and measurements, are more reliable in
subspecies identifications. D. Borror taped a calling flock that grew
to 15 at Blendon Woods 4/12-16/1970 (WCB 16:37). E. S. Thomas observed
one eating white pine seeds in Clintonville on the unexpected date of
8/27/1972 (WCB 18:24); 5-6 were observed elsewhere in town that day (AB
27(1):70), with one seen the ensuing winter at a Clintonville birdbath
on 2/24/1973. There is another August record, from the 30th in 1985 (AB
40(1):123), and one from September on the 29th in 1979 (OC 2(3):26).
Bent (237(1):512) gives an early normal arrival in Columbus of 10/11.
Local reports come from ten months of the year. More recently, in 2009
one was reported heard and seen on 3/28 in Hilliard (NAB 63(3):429) and
another on 2/3 at Green Lawn Cemetery (fide G. Stauffer). In 2012, the
same location hosted at least seven on 11/26/2012 (ph. I. Shulgina).
Maximum 20 on 1/31/1976 (AFN 30(3):727). A pair in Ross County in April
1973 (Thomson 1983:235) provided Ohio’s only confirmed nesting, which
was apparently unsuccessful.

White-winged Crossbill Loxia leucoptera. Seemingly unknown to our
area’s nineteenth-century observers, but present in appreciable numbers
here during occasional winter incursions from the north since, most
recently in 2012-13. At such times their flocks are partial to conifer
seeds, both on the tree and the ground, as well as fruits of sweetgums.
Groves of fruiting mature trees are preferred. One visited Green Lawn
Cemetery 1/3/1920 (OSMSB 27), where 20+ were present 1/31/1976 (AB
30(3):727) and as many in certain later years. One was singing 2/5/1996
(OC 19(2):51), and two found 12/8/1997 (OC 21(2):49), an example of
rarely-seen incursions in consecutive winters. A late crossbill report
came from 4/29/1981 (OC 4(1):37). During the winter of 1963-64, 15 were
tallied for the Columbus CBC, only the second record for the count; 62
were in hemlocks later on 1/19/1964, and Trautman reported one at Green
Lawn Cemetery 2/16/64 (fide E. Thomas). The county participated in a
memorable statewide invasion of these birds in the winter of 2008-9,
with numerous reports, mostly involving crossbills feeding on conifers,
through the period; this incursion alone raised the number of Ohio CBCs
having ever recorded this species from 21 to 27 (Troutman 2010), and
Franklin County hosted at least 140 reported, when especially preferred
were hemlock seeds in ornamental plantings (OC 32(2):84). Fifteen at
Green Lawn 11/8/2012 were the first seasonal arrivals (NAB 67(1):73),
with 25-30 the next day, and similar sightings continued through
February; 20+ were in a Clintonville back yard feeding on hemlocks
obliviously at arm’s length away 1/21 that same year (pers. obs.).
Specimen 1/15/1954 OSUM #9307.

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