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finnbay

White Wing Crossbills

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Up the Fernberg today, lookin' for whatever. Got a few shots of this crossbill:

WWCB1.jpg

WWCB2.jpg

WWCB3.jpg

Canon 50D and 100-400L, ISO 800 f/5.6 at 1/1200 Had to crop quite a bit to get these

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Nice pics of a bird that I don't think that i have ever seen before.

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To be honest, Jim, I'm not sure I really have either. Steve was with me going up the Fernberg and he said "Oh, there's a pair of white winged crossbills!" I'd have never known the difference and kept on going!

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I like that last one as well Ken. Don't feel bad I've never even heard of a crossbill!

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Here's my crossbill from today with Ken. Not much moving around, but it sure was pretty out in the snow.

3132427584_f369e58074_o.jpg

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I've never seen one either, are they more common up in your part of the world?

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Sweet shots, the last one really jumps out.

Donbo, crossbills are pretty unique in that they congregate where their food source is. They might be abundant one year and unheard of the next couple years. They feed heavily on spruce and tamarack seeds and have a nomadic lifestyle following the cone crops. Their breeding cycle is more closely tied to food availability than it is to season so they can nest anytime during the year. This year there is an abundance of crossbills so we must have a good cone crop. I have been seeing them just about every time I head out. They are attracted to the grit and salt on the roads but are often over looked as Pine grosbeaks since they are similar in appearance. So I guess the answer is to your question is, how common they are relates to the cone crops the conifers produced. This year they are pretty common, I have seen a lot of them, last year I only had one sighting.

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Thanks for that, since we have few spruce or tamarack this far south (compared to you) I would assume they are more rare in these parts.

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I have seen them this year in East Bethel(Anoka County) and Sherburn National Wildlife Refuge (Sherburn County) and I know hawk ridge in duluth reported I think it was 8000 in one day flying through heading south. This Is a good year to see them if you live in central or southern MN.

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