Date: 11/2/17 7:37 am
From: Ethan Duke <ethan.duke...>
Subject: Re: Red Crossbills in Carondelet Park 11/1/17
Howdy, Andy and Chrissy,

The group we saw in Saline County were on White Pines. My dad in western New York has seen them on hemlocks, too. The diet info (below) is from BNA (

It appears as though though there are eight subspecies which seldom interbreed. That is really odd considering how often the different types overlap in ranges. Evidently, they learn their flight calls from their parents. This is odd too, in that we would expect more of the geographic variation to be expressed in the “learned” songs rather than the typically “inherited and unlearned” calls. I’ll pull up the video I posted and see if I can determine the call type. There is a nifty chart of call types on the BNA species account, if you have a subscription.


Major Food Items
Seeds of spruce: white, black, red, Engelmann, Sitka (Austin 1968c <>, Benkman 1987b <>, T. P. Hahn pers. comm., CSA); of pines: eastern white (Pinus strobus), red (P. resinosa), ponderosa, lodgepole (Benkman Benkman 1987b <>, Benkman 1993a <>), pitch (P. rigida), scrub (P. virginiana), loblolly (P. taeda; CSA), and even table mountain (Groth Groth 1988 <>, Groth 1990 <>, Groth 1993b <>); of hemlock: western and eastern; and of Douglas-fir. Occasionally eats other seeds, such as those of birch (Betula spp.), alder (Alnus), box elder (Acer), buds of these and other trees, various weed seeds, unopened green buds, and staminate cones of spruces (Austin 1968c <>, Génard and Lescourret 1987 <>) and pines (C. Benkman pers. comm.). Also a variety of insect matter in summer, especially woolly aphis (Hemiptera: Eriosomatidae) and insect larvae rolled up in poplar (Populus) leaves (Austin 1968c <>, CSA) and elm (Ulmus) leaves (T. Hahn pers. comm.), aphids on Douglas-fir (T. Hahn pers. comm.), plant lice, other insect larvae, poplar galls (Austin 1968c <>), and juniper (Juniperus) galls (Richardson 1938b <>). Red Crossbills in the Bavarian Fichtelgebirge may spend summer months after spring cone crop has been depleted (the cones open in heat and drop their seeds) down slope in beech (Fagus) forest, eating mainly insects (H. Mueller pers. comm.).

Ethan C. Duke
Assistant Director / Co-founder
Missouri River Bird Observatory

> On Nov 1, 2017, at 4:35 PM, Andrew Reago <andrew.reago...> wrote:
> Chrissy had a flock of Red Crossbills in Carondelet Park today. What kinds of trees are folks seeing them in?
> Chrissy saw them only briefly taking a quick rest on a snaggy dying leafless deciduous tree - then fly off never to be found again for today. This surprised her, since she and I had been looking in all the evergreens in the park.
> We've been looking in the pines mostly due to photos others have posted this year, but in years past, they really liked our hemlocks and sweetgum trees. We'd also see them occasionally in spruce out at Faust.
> What trees do those with experience, or those seeing them, recommend looking in this time of year?
> Thanks,
> Andy Reago
> andrew.reago
> St. Louis MO
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