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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Red Crossbill -- Loxia curvirostra

RANGE: Resident from southern Alaska to Newfoundland, through southern Canada, and south to the northern Great Lakes area. Also from the Pacific states over to the Rocky Mountains, south into parts of Mexico. Wanders irregularly during the nonbreeding season.

STATUS: Locally common in conifer forests.

HABITAT: Inhabits coniferous and mixed coniferous-deciduous forests, humid pine-oak associations, and lowland pine savannah. Prefers forests with low canopy cover and is highly nomadic in response to changes in conifer seed production.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Conifer forests with abundant seed production.

NEST: Builds saddled nest well out on a branch or in a cluster of conifer leaves 5 to 80 feet above the ground. Nests during all months when suitable seed crops are available, but mostly from February through June.

FOOD: Feeds primarily on seeds of conifer trees, plus seeds of deciduous trees in summer. Also eats insects during spring and summer.

REFERENCES: Forbush and May 1955, Griscom 1937, Snyder 1954.

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