Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - 54

Audubon Society's Christmas Bird
Count. My red-breasted nuthatch
also was the only one on our count.
Red crossbills live throughout the
northern regions and high mountains
in Europe, Asia, North America, and
even the Atlas Mountains of North
Africa. Here in North America,
ornithologists have teased out at least
10 types of flight calls by red crossbills north of Mexico that some feel
may be discrete species
and others merely
races or subspecies of red crossbills.
Type 1, 2 and
10 calls also
were heard in
Pennsylvania,
although Type 3 was
the most common.
The calling of the
lone red crossbill I saw
may have
been an
effort to attract other red crossbills to
a feeding source, according to some
researchers.
Red crossbills prefer to feed on
attached cones, using their feet and
crossed bills like parrots to pry open
the cones. Then they husk the seed
coating by pressing a seed against the
lateral groove opposite the side of the
lower mandible tip with their tongue.
Small seeds they swallow whole, but
they crush large seeds in their bills
before swallowing them.
Both white-winged and red crossbills have straight upper mandibles.
Only the lower one curves, and while
three-quarters of white-winged crossbills' lower mandibles curve right and
54

the other quarter left. Red crossbills'
lower mandibles curve right half the
time and left the other half.
Even though both crossbills eat
conifer seeds, red crossbills prefer
the cones of pines, including white,
pitch, scrub, scotch, red, and even
table mountain in our area, but they
also will eat hemlock, spruce, tamarack, and occasionally the seeds of
deciduous trees.
Whitewinged
crossbills
prefer the softer
cones of hemlock, spruce and
tamarack, but
they also will
take seeds from
pines with stiff
cones and occasionally those of deciduous trees. Researchers
report they eat as many as
3,000 seeds a day.
While both species
sometimes
visit birdfeeders, I never saw either
at our feeders. I had plenty of time to
observe them, because no sooner had
I gained my strength back in early
January than I was diagnosed with
a deep muscle tear in my left calf
that kept me inside for nearly seven
weeks. That's when I began to refer
to last winter as "the winter of my
discontent."
I did see at my feeders the sixth
irruptive species - a male common
redpoll that appeared on Dec. 21. He
or another male and a female showed
up on Jan. 3, and on Jan. 6, and the
two following days, a flock of more
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014

Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - 2
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - 3
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - 4
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - 5
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Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - 27
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Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - 53
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - 54
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Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - A
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - B
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - Cover4
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