Tag Archives: Common Crossbill

Adult colours appearing

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra (young male)

Through the summer we have put out feed for the birds, sunflower seed. In the end of May a Common Crossbill appeared with a few chicks, a male with its offsprings. In June the number of chicks multiplied and for a time there were two males with no less than sixteen baby chicks on the feeding tray.

Later the males disappeared leaving the chicks here on their own. They have been here the whole summer, often five to six of them but now they are eleven.

The chicks are becoming more mature and their plumage is taking on the colours of the adults. Reed and yellow orange feathers are appearing. The youngest, however, still hold on to their grey tones.

Garden birds

Músarrindill – Wren – Troglodytes troglodytes

July and August are usually the most peaceful months in the garden, meaning that there are not as many birds as in the winter months. We have continued putting out sunflower seed all summer so of course some birds come by regularly. Redwings, Blackbirds and Redpolls nested in our garden and in neighbouring gardens this summer. Most of these birds finished breeding in the end June except the Blackbird that breeds several times during the summer. According to our observations it is now breeding for the fifth time.

Young Red Crossbill

With the coming of autumn more and more birds appear in the garden and last week there were three Wrens here (ad+2 juv), a Goldcrest, Crossbills, Redpolls, Blackbirds, Redwings and Starlings.


On our blog you can see our weekly report on the birds in our garden: http://ornosk.com/weekly-bird-report/weekly-bird-report-2017/


Peaceful Crossbills

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill / Red Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra

Common Crossbills flock to our garden, both young and old. They have must have got news about the feed that the nice man in Fagurgerði  puts out all year round now. Fagurgerði is actually the old name of our house and later when more houses were built it became the name of the street.

Several adults, both male and female, with chicks visit the feeders and there is a lot of coming and going. They seem such peaceful birds and share the sunflower seeds in blissful harmony with the Redpolls.

In the last ten days there have been up to 18 Crossbills at a time. First there were 3 – 4, a dad with 3 chicks and then their numbers grew as news spread of the full feeders here.

Crossbills and pine cones

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra

In Grímsnes, South Iceland, the Crossbills are busy eating seed from the cones of the Pinus contorta tree. Although the cones have not yet opened properly they manage to get to the seeds. They use their distinctively shaped beak, which they get their name from, to open the cones and with their tongue they fish the seed or nut out.

The Contorta pine goes under several names such as Lodgepole pine, Shore pine and also Twisted pine. The Common Crossbill usually prefers seed from spruce cones but in South Iceland there are more pines than spruces so pine seeds are their main food source, at least in the spring.

Feeding the females before breeding

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra

It is mating time for the Common Crossbill, also called Red Crossbill. The males eagerly find food for the females and feed them to their apparent delight.

The Crossbills breed very early, sometimes in the middle of winter if there is enough feed and that seems to be the case now. People also put out seeds for them which hopefully makes life a little bit easier.

That is the case here where these photos are taken yesterday in the last week of January. Some visit their summerhouses all year round and part of the enjoyment is observing nature and the transformations that come with the changing seasons, – and the bird life is often at the top of the list.

Crossbill with chicks

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra juv.

The first Common Crossbills are now with chicks. They breed very early, sometimes in the middle of winter if there is enough feed. Yesterday I found three week-old chicks on my walk in spruce and pine forests in Grímsnes, South Iceland. In previous years the first chicks have also appeared at this time of year, in the latter part of April.

Common Crossbill, male
Common Crossbill, male

The photos are of the chick and the parents.

Common Crossbill, female
Common Crossbill, female

The colours catch the eye

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra

In the last few weeks a pair of Common Crossbills have visited the garden regularly. The male is especially beautiful with its orange and yellow patches on the breast and head.


Male Common Crossbills come in different colours of red, orange and yellow. The yellow colour is rare in Iceland and in West Europe but more common in Mid Asia. The colours are due to genes and food.


This pair probably bred in Selfoss last spring and brought three young ones to our garden. Now it seems they have arrived in their breeding territory from last year. We are excited to see if they turn up in our garden in May with their chicks.

Singing in January

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra – young male

I found some Common Crossbills on my walk in Grímsnes, South Iceland, last week. One male was already singing. In the last few years the Common Crossbills have started breeding in spruce and pine forests in February although it is still winter.

Common Crossbill – female

It will be interesting to see if this will also be the case this winter. We will be keeping an eye on them.

Common Crossbill – male