Sunday, 13 May 2018

Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)

OTHER NAMES: Red Crossbill, Crossbill
Latin Etymology: Loxia ("crosswise") curvirostra ("curved bill")
Adult female Common Crossbill (subspecies L. c. poliogyna*) at Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy - May 2018

Local Name (Italian): Crociere Comune
Featured Subspecies: Loxia curvirostra poliogyna*
Weight: 23-53g
Length: 14-20cm
Wingspan: 29cm
UK GREEN LIST IUCN Red List: Least Concern 

Perhaps the center of one of the most muddy bits of avian taxonomy in Europe, the Common Crossbill as it stands is a wide ranging conifer seed specialist with a range that covers a not insubstantial chunk of the Northern Hemisphere. However, as many populations are isolated and have begun to specialise in the seeds of particular trees, the debate for dividing them into subspecies or even species is a complex issue.  They have also long been one of my most infamous "bogey-birds" - they are highly irruptive so in theory can be found anywhere, but I have missed out on them time and time again in the UK, until finally seeing the birds resident on Mount Etna.

Related Species: 
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Genus: Loxia
SUBSPECIES: L. c. curvirostra, L. c. corsicana, L. c. poliogyna, L. c. guillemardi, L. c. mariae, L. c. altaiensis, L. c. tianschanica, L. c. himalayensis, L. c. meridionalis, L. c. japonica, L c. luzoniensis, L. c. minor, L. c. sitkensis, L. c. bendirei, L. c. benti, L. c. grinelli, L. c. stricklandi, L. c. mesamericana, L. c. pusilla

 - Sighting Locations -
ITALY - A localised resident in coniferous areas
 - SICILY 2018 TRIP: Fairly common in the conifer zone of Mount Etna

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum OpusIUCN Red List, RSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto

* The Crossbills of Etna are currently considered to be members of the North African subspecies, however, there is speculation that they might represent their own taxon due to physical differences.

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