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Parrot Crossbill - BirdForum Opus

Photo by maartenlorenz
Leusden, Netherlands, January 2008
Loxia pytyopsittacus


Photo of female by Macswede
Gotska Sandön, Sweden, June, 2012

Length 17-18 cm, weight 44-69 g
Massive bill; lower mandible has bulbous underside. Flattish crown often looks like it continues into the upper mandible; bull-necked.
Males - red or orange-red.
Females - green or yellow.
Juveniles - as females, but streaked and slightly greyer

Colours in males, females, and immatures closely parallel what is seen in other crossbills.

Similar species

Common Crossbill and Scottish Crossbill are identical in plumage, but differ in structure, with Common Crossbill in particular having an obviously slenderer bill and less bull-necked head; Scottish is intermediate between Common and Parrot, and is effectively inseparable except by calls, and even that uncertain (q.v.). White-winged Crossbill is more easily distinguished by its white wingbars.


Photo of juvenile by Macswede
Gotska Sandön, Sweden, June, 2012

Northern Europe, in Scandinavia, the Baltic States, and Russia east to the Ural Mountains. There is also a small population in central Scotland. During irruptions, occasionally breeds further west and south, with records in Germany, Netherlands and England.


This is a monotypic species1.


Breeds and winters in pine Pinus forests and woodlands.



Almost exclusively feed on pine seeds, primarily Scots Pine P. sylvestris, but also uses European Black Pine P. nigra and other pines when these are cultivated within the species' range. The crossed bill helps in extracting the seeds from the cones. Also eats immature conelets and pollen cones when seeds unavailable in late spring and early summer. During cone crop failures, will resort to seeds of other conifers, particularly spruce Picea, but feeds less efficiently on these.



  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds 1966
  4. Collins Field Guid 5th Edition

External Links

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