Mobile bird identification
Bird Field Guide
Adult Male

Common Crossbill

  Loxia curvirostra
(Including, Scottish, Parrot Bill and Two-barred)
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Other Finches
Blue-grey head
White wing patches
Pink underside
Brown back
Dark wings
Mottled head
Orange breast
Dark spots on flank
White rump
Dark back and wings
Pale grey head
Pink breast
Orange-brown back
Pale red forehead
Dark wings
Black streaked breast
Tawny-buff face
Streaked brown back
Pink rump
Dark wings
Pink breast
Pink forehead
Small bill
Brown streaked body
Whitish streaked underside
Red face
Black and white head
Bright yellow on wings
Tawny brown back
Pale underside
Green-yellow body
Stout bill
Yellow wing bar
Large heavy finch
Dark around eye
Black cap
Yellow head and breast
Black and yellow wings
Yellow wings
White underside
Bright yellow forehead
Yellow breast
Green and black wings
Forked tail
Female brownish
Black cap, bill and nape
Bright red underside
Grey back
Black wings
White rump
Large heavy bill
Bright brown head
Brown body
Black wings
Whitish wing bar
Hooked, crossed bill
Red or green body
Dark wings
Dark eye
Habitat specific
Serin (Rare)
Identification points of a Common Crossbill
Common Crossbill flying
Female Common Crossbill
Common Crossbill in flight
Order: Passeriformes

Family: Fringillidae

Genus: Loxia

Species: L. curvirostra
Widely distributed throughout Europe but scattered and not always consistently present in some areas. Found throughout the UK in suitable habitats, numbers increase in winter due to visitors from Northern Europe.
The Crossbill is only found in mature coniferous woodland particularly Spruce and Pine.
The Crossbill has evolved to feed exclusively on conifer seeds, it's specialised bill enabling it to extract seeds from pine cones. Due to it's dry diet it is a frequent visitor to water sources near it's food source.
Hooked, crossed bill
Habitat specific (mature pine)
Dark eye
Dark wings and tail
Red (male) or green (female) body
Male Common Crossbill

The Crossbill male has a dull red body, dark wings and a distinctive hooked and crossed bill. The female has a dull green body.

Note the distinctive dark eye, crossed bill and overall reddish colour of this male bird. The Crossbill is rarely seen away from mature pine trees and is unlikely to be confused with other species although there are three other species of Crossbill which can be difficult to separate, see note below.
Adult Female
The female Crossbill has a dull green-yellow coloured body, the wings and tail, like the male are dark and of course she also has the hooked and crossed bill.
Juvenile Common Crossbill
Female Common Crossbill
Whilst most often described as green, the female Crossbill can appear yellow in certain light conditions, especially the birds breast and rump.

Note the birds distinctive dark eye in this image.
Juvenile birds are mostly brown with bold streaking on the underside, the young birds bill only becomes crossed as it gets older so cannot be relied on to confirm identification, however young birds are inevitably accompanied by adult birds in small flocks and if not seen can often be heard calling.
Rump usually brighter red than body
Two-barred Crossbill, Loxia leucoptera
A rare visitor to Western Europe, usually from Canada or Alaska. As the name suggests the bird usually has two whitish wing bars which can be prominent or faint. However as the Common Crossbill has also been known to have faint wing bars this cannot be relied upon to confirm identification.

* Usually has two whitish wing bars.
* Is smaller and slimmer than other Crossbills.
* Longer tail than other Crossbills.
* Smaller slimmer bill than other Crossbills.
* Has a distinctive call.
Two-barred Crossbill
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Scottish Crossbill
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Parrot Crossbill
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Scottish Crossbill, Loxia scotica
Very hard to distinguish from the Common Crossbill, once considered the same bird, then a sub-species it is now treated as a separate bird. It is the only British bird to breed only in the UK and nowhere else in the world. There are around 7000 breeding pair in Scotland.

* Found only in Scottish highland pine forests.
* Larger heavier bill than Common.
* Same plumage and call as Common.
Note the heavier much deeper bill of this Scottish Crossbill.
Parrot Crossbill, Loxia pytyopsittacus

A rare breeding visitor to the UK. With around only 70 pair breeding mostly in the same areas as the Scottish Crossbill making ID even more difficult.

This images illustrates the parrot like appearance of the bird due to it's thick neck, oversize bill and large head.
* Heavier bill than Scottish Crossbill but shorter.
* Larger head with Parrot like appearance.
* Around 30% bigger than the Common.
* Thicker neck than other Crossbills.
* Softer, shorter, slower call than the Common.
Note the clear white wing bars.
(Common Crossbill)
Other Crossbill..