Date: 2/5/19 6:10 pm From: Nick Bonomo via CTBirds <ctbirds...> Subject: [CT Birds] Sterling Red Crossbills
This morning I had 3+ RED CROSSBILLS in Pachaug State Forest in the town of Sterling. This is likely part of a wintering group that has been seen just over the border at Nicholas Farm Management Area, Rhode Island, where crossbills have been reported since late November. Given the presence of Pitch Pine (or something like it) with loads of cones, these birds should be chase-able to some degree.
The only problem is that this is part of what seems to be a reasonably large area, so encountering the birds may take a fair amount of time and luck. And a bit of a walk. Knowing the flight call of Red Crossbill (especially Type 10) is very helpful in locating them.
Directions: Immediately west of the CT/RI line, along Newport Rd in Sterling, is a gated dirt State Forest Road (labeled as such on Google Maps). Park at this gate and walk north. The road forks more than once, so try to stay on the road as labeled on Google Maps. After one mile, among the mixed Eastern White Pine and deciduous trees, you will start to notice a few cone-laden Pitch Pine. You may begin to encounter Red-breasted Nuthatches at this point, as they are also taking advantage of this food source. The Pitch Pine density should increase as you head further north. The trails soon really begin to fork and bend in different directions, especially east of the sand dirt bike/ATV course that is visible on satellite view. The crossbills are most likely to be encountered near the Pitch Pines.
Approximate coordinates for the target area: 41.685731, -71.792973
A shorter hike would be available if you can park at the end of Deerfield Shores, but I took a quick swing through there and found a densely settled neighborhood that didn't really have any public-looking parking, so I left.
In addition to the crossbills, I had 5 Red-breasted Nuthatches in the Pitch Pines, a Purple Finch calling from the backyard opposite the gate on Newport Rd, and a single flyover Common Redpoll.