Saturday, December 8, 2007

Red Crossbills At Hammonasset

Today, I went to Hammonasset in Madison, Connecticut to look for crossbills and hit the jackpot. These birds are just awesome to watch! The top photo shows eleven, but I counted as many as forty at one time. They were feeding in the trees next to the West Beach parking lot but every so often, they would take off together in a fairly tight flock. They seemed to have an undulating flight, often circling the area several times before coming in for a landing. Crossbills have a very distinct tone to their flight call which is fairly loud and easy to hear. I can understand now how people who are familiar with this species can identify them when they fly over. Here are two male Red Crossbills. When I first arrived, there was one other birder who was very familiar with this species of bird. He said that they like to eat the seeds within the pine cone but not all pine cones have seeds in them every year. They also seemed to be gleaning food-(insects? sap?) from the bark of deciduous trees.
The female crossbills were a subtle yellowish color with dark wings. The photos weren't perfect but I was happy to get some this time around.
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It's just like I anticipated. Once I saw my first crossbill the other day, I knew there would be more to come. I'm looking forward to seeing more irruptive species but I'm a little tired tired of the word irruptive. It makes it sound like the birds are being spewed out of a volcano or something. This has been a nice way to start the winter. Hopefully there will be more good birds heading our way this winter!

19 comments:

RuthieJ said...

Cool pictures, Larry! Looks like you had a great day....bird-wise & weather-wise.

PA-Birder said...

Simply Amazing!

Jayne said...

Wow Larry... jackpot indeed! Love the photos, esp. of the Pine Grosbeaks. Just wonderful. Glad I am not the only one who winces at the word irruptive....lol.

Larry said...

FYI-I made an error.-All of these birds are crossbills!

Pa-birder-yours are coming!

ruthiej-No wind+good weather.-It was cloudy much of the time but comfortable. I really only concentrated on watching the crossbills.

Larry said...

Jayne-I don't know why I listed photo 3 as Grosbeaks because all of these birds are crossbills.-If you enlarge photo 3 you can actually see the crossbills.
In any case I'm glad you mentioned Grosbeaks because that brought my attention to the error I made.I guess I also had Grosbeaks on my mind.

mon@rch said...

awesome pictures for sure and I have yet to see any crossbills this season!

Trixie said...

Love these shots! What a great day. Thanks for showing us.

Cathy said...

Larry! I can't believe the great birding you're having. I've not had a Cross Bill yet . . . I've been perusing your photos. You are having a very good year.

MojoMan said...

Fantastic photos, Larry! A crossbill would be a lifer for me, so I'll be keeping my eyes open. Thanks for the heads-up.

Larry said...

monarch-I'm sure you will be seeing them.

trixie-thanks!

Cathy-I thhink I'm having some good birding because I've been birding pretty consistently.

mojoman-You are right in the prime area.-Keep an eye on the Mass bird reports.-Grosbeaks and crossbills are more numerous in mass than here.

Birding In Maine said...

Larry;

Nice pictures of the Crossbills!! Congrats!!

The irruption is in full swing here in New England. I will be out and about looking for irruptive species this weekend if the weather holds out. (Sounds like a snowy Nor'easter coming Saturday.)

Don't forget to look for Barred Owls. They are having an irruption here in Maine as many folks are seeing them even during daylight hours.

John Briggs
Birding In Maine

Mary said...

I never knew the Crossbills had crossed bills until I came here. Very cool - they almost look like tiny hawks.

Great photos, Larry. I laughed at your comment on "irruptive". Does sound odd...

Patrice said...

What fun to read this! Your photos are great too. Thank you, Larry.

LauraHinNJ said...

Neat that you got to see them and take pics. They're mostly just flyovers for me.

dguzman said...

Boy you weren't kidding--once you saw one irrupter bird, you started seeing lots!

I'm hoping to see red crossbills as well; we've had accounts of them in counties all around mine, so I have my fingers crossed!

Larry said...

Birding in Maine-Thanks-I hope you get your share of irruptive species.-I've heard that there are some barred Owls around.Hopefully I'll find one tomorrow.

Mary-I saw a White-winged Crossbil once.I couldn't tell that it had a crossed bill though.

Patrice-Glad you liked it.

laura-So you're another one that can pick out the flyovers.-I'm working on that one.-The flyover Crossbills to stand out though.

dzugman-It could be a very exciting winter in that regard.

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Great pix! I'm still lookin' for crossbills.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I would love to see crossbills, we have our very own Scottish crossbill, but rare and elusive. Your photos are wonderful, you had a lucky day there!

Larry said...

Zen birdfeeder-thanks-hope you find those pesky Crossbills!

crafy green poet-thanks-and thanks for stopping by.I will visit your blog soon as well.