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Increased numbers of crossbills in Alberta?


In the 2015 Christmas Bird Counts (CBC), both Calgary and Edmonton reported record numbers for red and white-winged crossbills. At AIWC we too are seeing an increase in admissions of these finches.

In 2014, we admitted 0 crossbills, however, since December 2015 we have admitted 16 (red and white-winged). Why the increase? Some biologists suggest that an abundance of food last spring is the cause. With an increase of food, such as conifer seeds, more offspring survive. Individual crossbills have been reported to eat up to 3000 confider seeds a day!

CBC Results for Crossbills:

Red Crossbills Reported:

  • Calgary: 237
  • Edmonton: 741 (0 reported in 2014 and 2013)

White-winged Crossbills Reported:

  • Calgary: 1101
  • Edmonton: 2217 (0 reported in 2014 and 2013)

* Thank you to Birds Calgary and Wild Birds Unlimited for the results.

95% of the animals admitted to our centre are injured or orphaned due to human activities. The majority of the crossbills recently admitted to AIWC were victims of window strikes. To learn more about what you can do to prevent window strikes, visit FLAP Canada.

Are you seeing an increase in crossbills in your area? If so, let us know 🙂

9 thoughts on “Increased numbers of crossbills in Alberta?”

  1. Was delighted to see three males and one female white winged crossbills on January 24. Sighting was on a large spruce tree on the edge of Mill Creek Ravine, Edmonton. It has been years since we have seen this type of bird in Edmonton.
    Was additionally surprised to see the female later in the day at our back yard bird feeder for a short feeding. She was battling the pine siskins for access to seeds. She won the pecking order but we did not see her again and the pine siskins continued to eat without that type of competition.

  2. South East Calgary, 8- 10 Red Crossbills, males and females at our bird feeders eating the sunflower seeds. Many more were in the pine tree at the bottom of the garden.

  3. My wife and I are long time birders as we live on an acreage near Edmonton. We were pleased to see Red Cross bills for the first time ….and at our feeders to boot. It started as a pair and over the week the numbers have grown to, I’d say, roughly 75. They are at the feeders all day and include both mature and immature males and females. My hope is they remain and breed in the area as we are in a mixed forest environment….hopefully they find it to their liking.

  4. I live on an average just nort of Edmonton and I too have red crossbills for the first time in 26 years of living here! I probably have 5 pairs at least. I hope they stay I have huge spruce/pine trees .

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