Common Crossbill - Loxia curvirostra


The Common Crossbill is a heavily built finch characterised by the mandibles of the bill crossing at their tips. They are specialist feeders on conifer cones and the unusual bill shape assists in the extraction of the seeds from the cones. The male is mainly brick-red or orange, but its crown and rump are brighter, and the wings and tail are a dark brown. The female is green-grey with a paler yellow rump. The back, wings and tail are a dark grey-brown. However, there is much variation. Juveniles are mostly grey-brown with heavily streaked underparts. The call is a distinctive "jip-jip-jip" and is often given in flight enabling its identification.

Identification difficulty

Breeds and winters in coniferous plantations and woodlands with a preference for spruces.

When to see it

All year round. They are an irruptive species and may be numerous and widespread in some years, less so in others. In irruption years, birds will arrive from the Continent from late summer, often staying to breed.

UK Status

Up to 20,000 pairs. Migrant/resident breeder, passage/winter visitor.

VC55 Status

Uncommon irruptive visitor, very rare breeder. Recorded in all months.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map