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Common Crossbill, association with Coal Tits.

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Old Thursday 11th October 2018, 14:21   #1
Chas 100
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Exeter, UK
Posts: 29
Common Crossbill, association with Coal Tits.

I have been watching and photographing the Crossbills in my nearby woods at Haldon, Devon UK very successfully at last. It has taken me more than a year to learn what is going on and now I understand what they are doing I am pretty much having quite a lot of success. I had been watching a pool closely and chosen to watch the open clear exposed areas and hadn't realised that the birds were flying in very secretively to an area at the back of the pool which is very protected by overhanging branches, behind lily pads and in fact, they are standing on the pads to drink and bathe. Only once have I seen them in an exposed part of the large pool. They arrive at the tall conifers above the pool and can sit there for up to 15 minutes before they come down to drink, very furtively and all the time being very silent. Then when they leave they will call, I think to keep the small flock together. Quite often they come in pairs, male and female. I have also seen very young birds with beaks that have yet to cross and have been trying to find out at what age the beaks can be described as crossed. This is important information because it would obviously indicate when the birds have bred? Also, it seems too much of a coincidence that the birds are often accompanied by Coal Tits and it would appear to me that they use the Coal Tits presence as an indicator of safety, has anyone got any evidence of similar behaviour? They seem to watch what the less cautious Coal Tits are doing before coming down?
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Old Friday 12th October 2018, 11:05   #2
Dave Cox

Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Dawlish, Devon; in a seabird colony
Posts: 1,640
Very interesting Chas. I haven't come across Coal Tits being used as sentinels before, maybe someone on here has ?
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