Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Magnifying the passion for nature. Zeiss Victory Harpia 95. New!

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Personal tools
Main Categories

White-winged Crossbill

From Opus

Alternative name: Two-barred Crossbill

Male L. l. leucopteraPhoto by Marcel GauthierCharlevoix, Quebec, Canada, August 2006
Male L. l. leucoptera
Photo by Marcel Gauthier
Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, August 2006
Loxia leucoptera


[edit] Identification

Female L. l. leucopteraPhoto by zerb21Van Buren Township, Michigan, USA, January 2009
Female L. l. leucoptera
Photo by zerb21
Van Buren Township, Michigan, USA, January 2009

Length 14.5-17 cm (5¾-6¾ in), weight 25-40 g

  • Rich carmine red inclining to crimson or pinkish head and body
  • Dark reddish-brown feet
  • Blackish primary feathers and tail
  • Two broad pure white wing bars
  • Tertials with clearly defined pure white tips


  • Dusky upper parts
  • Yellowish-grey under parts streaked and dusky
  • Wings and tail similar to male, but paler

Resembles female, but under parts are dull yellowish grey, spotted and streaked in dark brown

[edit] Similar species

Other crossbills differ in lacking white wingbars, though Red Crossbill (or possibly hybrids between Red and White-winged Crossbills) can show narrow, weak white wingbars with diffuse margins; in pure White-winged Crossbills the wingbars are obvious, broad, and with sharply defined edges. Some other finches with white wingbars such as Chaffinch and Long-tailed Rosefinch could be confused on a brief view, but differ greatly in behaviour and calls.

[edit] Distribution

Male L. l. bifasciataPhoto by buzzard12Uppsala, Sweden; January 2012
Male L. l. bifasciata
Photo by buzzard12
Uppsala, Sweden; January 2012

Circumpolar northern hemisphere. The nominate subspecies breeds in northern North America from Alaska to eastern Canada and northern USA, while the subspecies L. l. bifasciata breeds in northern Europe and Asia. Winters a little farther south; irruptive after cone crop failures and can then be seen much further south than the normal wintering areas.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

There are two subspecies[1]:

  • L. l. leucoptera (White-winged Crossbill):
  • Coniferous forests of north-central Alaska to Newfoundland, Canada and northern US. Marginally smaller and thinner-billed; base of contour feathers darker than tips.
  • L. l. bifasciata (Two-barred Crossbill):
  • Larch forests of northern Eurasia. Marginally larger and thicker-billed; base of contour feathers same colour as tips.
Juvenile L. l. bifasciataPhoto by AlanRFair Isle, August 2008
Juvenile L. l. bifasciata
Photo by AlanR
Fair Isle, August 2008

It has been suggested that the two may be better treated as separate species, but this has not found significant acceptance.

Hispaniola Crossbill was formerly considered to be a third subspecies, but is now treated separately.

[edit] Habitat

Mixed conifer forests in northern North America; exclusively in larch forests in northern Eurasia.

[edit] Behaviour

This is one of several species of Crossbills and other birds that exhibit irruptive behaviour: they may be resident for several years in a breeding area but are then induced by unfavourable environmental factors to migrate in numbers to areas in which they otherwise are absent.

[edit] Diet

Conifer seeds, extracted from cones using their bill adapted for prying. White-winged Crossbill utilises a range of genera, including larch Larix, spruce Picea, hemlock Tsuga, douglas-fir Pseudotsuga and pine Pinus, while Two-barred Crossbill almost exclusively uses larch Larix, rarely using any other conifers.

[edit] Vocalisation

Listen in an external program
White-winged Crossbill
Sólbrekka, Iceland, 15 November 2017
Recording by Falk65

Listen in an external program
White-winged Crossbill, Trumpet call
Sólbrekka, Iceland, 15 November 2017
Recording by Falk65

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from

[edit] External Links


Opticron - Imagic BGA VHD 8x42 – 2018 BBR Award Winner

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.32296610 seconds with 6 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 06:12.