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Scottish Crossbill - BirdForum Opus

Photo by griffin
Deeside, Scotland confirmed by sonogram 3C calls
Loxia scotica


Length 16-17 cm, weight 36-49 g
Adult males are red or orange-red in colour, and females green or yellow, but there is much variation. Their bills are characterised by the mandibles crossing at their tips.

Similar species

Intermediate between Red Crossbill and Parrot Crossbill in bill size and other measurements, and overlapping extensively with both. Generally considered identifiable only by sonogram analysis of the calls, though as this feature cannot be determined for the type specimen (collected in 1870, long before the discovery of vocal differences between different crossbill taxa), it is unknown if the birds currently identified as Scottish Crossbills by calls are the same taxon as the type specimen.


Caledonian pine forests of central and northern Scotland, and nearby conifer plantations.


Disputed; doubtfully valid as a taxon and (like other crossbill taxa) not currently known to be genetically distinct. Despite this, currently accepted as distinct by most authorities[1]. Treated by the UK400 Club as a synonym of Parrot Crossbill[2].


Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris forests; also occasionally in other cultivated conifer plantations, including European Larch Larix decidua and Lodgepole Pine Pinus contorta.


It nests in pines or other conifers, laying 2-5 eggs.

The unusual bill shape is an adaptation to assist the extraction of the seeds from the cone. It is a specialist feeder on the cones of pines (Scots Pine and Lodgepole Pine) and larch.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9., with updates to August 2014. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. UK400 Club list
  3. Birdforum thread discussing status and identity of this and other crossbills.

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